SMITHFIELD, RI – In the fall of 2001, 11 students arrived on campus to begin their educational journey as Bryant’s first Applied Psychology majors with three dedicated faculty members, Ron Deluga, Ed.D., an expert in the psychology of leadership; the late Janet Morahan-Martin, Ph.D., a respected clinical psychologist; and Nanci Weinberger, Ph.D., an accomplished developmental psychologist focusing on child and adolescent development as well as cross-cultural psychology.
“We are certainly proud to celebrate this impressive milestone, but we are really just getting started."
Now, 20 years later, the recently renamed Psychology program has more than tripled in size with 91 majors currently and 40 more expected this fall, 40 students concentrating in the discipline, and hundreds who study Psychology as a minor.
According to Professor Deluga, Psychology classes are among the first to fill during registration, and classes run at about 97% capacity. And, Psychology is one of the most searched courses of study on Bryant’s website.
Celebrating success and looking ahead
The Bryant Psychology Association, led by student president Jenna Knight ’22 of Scottsdale, AZ, hosted a 20th anniversary event on May 5 where faculty, students, and staff celebrated success and shared excitement about Bryant’s Vision 2030 strategic plan for the future in which Psychology and Health and Behavioral Sciences play a central role.
The event included an awards ceremony where Knight received the Psychology Department Service Award, and Eleni Spiratos ’22 of Fresh Meadows, NY, received the Commencement Award for Psychology.
Psychology students are highly engaged in the classroom as well as immersive experiential learning. They develop as researchers in the field and also through applied and lab-based research at Bryant’s Psychology Research Center. One of the hallmarks of a Bryant education, and the Psychology program in particular, is faculty-student mentoring and research. These rich collaborations produce research that is published in prestigious journals and presented and conferences around the world.
Graduates of Bryant’s Psychology program are in demand and achieving success in both their graduate and career pursuits. They have earned advanced degrees, including Ph.D.s, at prestigious institutions including Rice University, Holy Cross, and Boston College. They’ve also achieved career success in medicine, mental health counseling, education, forensic psychology, business, marketing, human resource management, sports coaching, school psychology, and more. The understanding of human psychology and behavior is critical for success in just about every type of endeavor.
“Our dream of developing a Psychology ‘dream team’ has come true."
The “dream team”
The growth of the Psychology program has been driven by the commitment of the faculty who are purpose-driven advocates for the program and have expanded areas of study and opportunity. Those areas include: Clinical and Health Psychology led by Joseph Trunzo, Ph.D., Department Chair and Deputy Director of Bryant’s Center for Health and Behavioral Sciences (CBHS): Cognitive Psychology, led by Heather Lacey, Ph.D.: Developmental and Educational Psychology, led by Allison Butler, Ph.D., who is also Director of Bryant’s groundbreaking IDEA (Innovation and Design Experience for All); and Neuropsychology, led by Kristen Scaplen, Ph.D. This fall, Bryant will welcome Clinical Psychologist Lindsay Amper, Ph.D.
“Our dream of developing a Psychology ‘dream team’ has come true,” said Professor Deluga is his keynote remarks at the anniversary celebration. “I’m so proud of how we have worked so well together and will continue to do so in the future.”
"With our new Center for Health and Behavioral Sciences, we are able to offer even more opportunities for student-faculty collaboration..."
The Psychology team also includes longtime and “unsung” adjunct faculty members Bary Fleet, Bob Masse, and Sue Wondolowski (ret.). Deluga extended a special acknowledgment to Lucie Koretsky, Faculty Service Coordinator, who “has been invaluable in helping us navigate the complex challenges of growing our program.”
“It is incredibly rewarding to work with our dedicated faculty and students and to be part of the tremendous growth for our program and the University,” said Professor Trunzo. “Now, with our new Center for Health and Behavioral Sciences, we are able to offer even more opportunities for student-faculty collaboration to further advance the program, not only in support of our students, but also to contribute to our communities in meaningful ways.”
A little background
Professor Deluga noted that when he arrived at Bryant 41 years ago, he was a member of the Department of Management and Psychology where about eight courses were offered to students. In 1985, Psychology became part of the Department of History and Social Sciences, and faculty developed Bryant’s first Psychology minor. The growth in popularity and practical applications of the program were clear to all, and after a rigorous process of course development, self-study, and accreditation, the vision for a Psychology major at Bryant became a reality.
Applied Psychology was among the first three non-business majors to be offered at Bryant, and it was an integral part of the University’s evolution toward the formal integration of business and liberal arts.
“A unique aspect of our Psychology major was the inclusion of a four-course minor in Business,” explained Professor Deluga. “We as a department are proud of playing a major role in Bryant’s unique curriculum nationwide.”
The College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Business were formed in 2004 galvanizing Bryant’s transition to University and advancing the a truly differentiating, integrated curriculum that requires Business majors to minor in the liberal arts, and liberal arts majors to minor in business.
Just getting started
“When I came here 14 years ago, it was clear that Bryant is a place where innovation and imagination are valued and that faculty and students are able to grow,” said Professor Butler, who served as an organizer and host of the anniversary celebration. “We are certainly proud to celebrate this impressive milestone, but we are really just getting started. With the CHBS, new faculty, new programs and integration with other disciplines, there is truly a bright future ahead, and I am looking forward to working with my colleagues and students to achieve great things in our next chapter.”