New department to concentrate on science side of psychology

Trey Crumbie

A science-based curriculum was the driving force that created the new department of psychological sciences.

The department was approved by the Board of Regents in October and officially created on Nov. 1. The new department is a split off from the department of psychology.

Elizabeth Lemerise, interim department head of psychological sciences, said psychology has an applied side and a research-based, science side.

The new department will concentrate on the science side and recognize psychology as a STEM, or Science, Technology, Engineering and Math field.

Lemerise said the new department is currently working on a proposal to create a Bachelor of Science degree. Before the split, the only degree offered in psychology was a Bachelor of Arts.

“What that means for students is that there will be an additional kind of degree in psychology in addition to what we currently have,” Lemerise said.

Steven Wininger, psychology professor and co-chair department head, said the two departments are still working to determine who should teach what courses and which courses each department will be in charge of. In addition to this, both departments are establishing new curriculums themselves.

“Overall, my biggest thing is just maintaining hope,” Wininger said. “In hoping that although this is a really difficult process right now, and while we may not all agree on why this is happening or whether this should have happened, it’s happening, and I hope that we can all work together…to do new things and do new things that benefit students.”

Lemerise said due to the limited space available on campus, the new department will stay housed in the current home of the psychology department in Gary Ransdell Hall until further notice.

“For the time being and maybe for a few more years, we’re going to be right here,” Lemerise said. “No one is going anywhere.”

Cheryl Stevens, dean of Ogden College of Science and Engineering, said her college is welcoming of the new department.

“We’re very happy to have them,” Stevens said. “Looking forward to new opportunities — new collaborations.”

Lemerise said there’s plenty she has to do while she is interim department head.

“It’s pretty busy,” Lemerise said. “There’s a lot to do because you’re starting from the ground up and (there are) a lot of things to get in place. I would say we’re working very hard on looking at curriculum and developing the B.S. and getting things organized and so on.”

Gordon Emslie, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, said the creation of the new department is a win-win situation.

“Psychology is a very diverse discipline with a large variety of subfields and we believe it’s in the best interest of the university to allow faculty to thrive in whatever sub-field they wish to participate in,” Emslie said.