Twenty-five years ago, Tarleton State University launched a psychology major with just three students and one professor.
Today, the major has grown into a standalone department with nearly 700 students and 13 full-time professors.
The Department of Psychological Sciences will celebrate the 25-year milestone from 3 to 5 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, in Dining Hall Room 218.
“The psychology department has seen a great deal of change and growth over the years,” said Dr. Jamie Borchardt, department head and assistant professor of psychological sciences. “We want to come together to highlight and celebrate our history and look forward to our future.”
The celebration includes the official kickoff of the Robert W. Newby Scholarship in Psychological Sciences, the department’s first endowed scholarship, named for the degree’s founding professor who remains a faculty member.
When Dr. Newby joined Tarleton in 1975, the university offered only a couple of psychology courses, which were part of the then-Department of Education and Psychology.
As the courses grew in popularity, he said, the university saw a need for more psychology instruction and, in 1993, began to offer a bachelor’s degree in psychology.
Tarleton’s first three psychology majors graduated in 1995 and included Dr. Jennifer Dias, who is now an assistant professor of psychological sciences at the university.
“As someone who has been here from Day 1, it’s incredible to realize 25 years have passed,” Dias said. “We are proud of our past and the direction we are headed.”
Students now can enroll in the undergraduate program offered at Tarleton’s Stephenville campus as well as at locations in Fort Worth, Waco, Midlothian and online. A master in applied psychology is available in Stephenville, with some courses offered in Fort Worth.
The department boasts a diverse slate of research interests, including neuroscience, cognition, applied learning, eyewitness testimony, addictions and group collaboration, and work with adolescents and veterans. It is a range that gives students wide exposure to different areas within psychology, Borchardt said.
Graduates of the program work in clinical and social services in Texas and beyond, with many earning advanced degrees.