Fall 2007 Department Newsletter

 Greetings from the Chair
Dr. Connie Pilkington, Chair




Dear Alumni and Friends,

I have always been impressed with my fellow faculty members in the Department, but when the Dean’s Office sent me a departmental profile for the 2005-2006 academic year this past spring, being impressed turned into being amazed. I thought I’d share some of the data with you to give you a sense of all that’s being accomplished here. (The 2006-2007 data have not yet been compiled.)

During that school year, 312 juniors and seniors were declared psychology majors and an additional 26 students were enrolled as psychology minors. By the end of the year, 152 students had graduated with an undergraduate major in psychology, representing an average of 9 degrees per faculty member. Put another way, psychology (one of 35 possible majors at W&M) was the major for 11% of the graduating class of 1,384. For the sake of comparison, I looked at the same data for other popular majors at W&M. That year, the Government Department awarded 150 degrees for an average of 7 degrees per faculty member, English awarded 125 (3.1 degrees per faculty member), and Biology awarded 100 degrees (4.2 per faculty member).

Believe it or not, 2005-2006 was a “lite” year for Psychology.  The 2004-2005 academic year was more typical. That year, there were 339 juniors and seniors with a declared major in psychology, and 41 students were enrolled as minors. Graduating psychology majors numbered 181, 13% of the 2005 graduating class. Eight students graduated with Honors.

The psychology majors who graduated in 2005-2006 had taken 34.5% of their 120 credit hours required for graduation in Psychology. That’s an average of about 41.5 credit hours, which is nearly 10 hours over the required 32 hours for the major and two courses shy of the maximum 48 credit hours the College allows students to take in any one given department.  The 15 tenured/tenure-eligible faculty who were teaching that year taught an average of 465 student credit hours a piece.  Our overall course enrollment was 2,365 in the Fall of 2005 and 2,277 in the Spring of 2006. If each student took only 2 tests per class, that’s a minimum of 9,284 exams that faculty graded.

I assure you that we do not accomplish the above by teaching very large classes. In fact, 49% of the undergraduate classes we offered that year had enrollments of 30 students or less, 84% of the classes had enrollments of 40 students or less, and 93% of the classes we offered had enrollments of 50 or less.  Only 6 classes had enrollments over 100 students and, you guessed it, those were the six sections of the two introductory classes. Moreover, my best but very informal count indicates that the faculty supervised a minimum of 83 independent studies and 4 honors projects.

At the same time, in AY 2005-2006, the faculty published 25 articles in scientific (peer-reviewed) journals, four chapters in edited books, and two books. We made over 50 presentations at scientific conferences as well. In fact, of almost 200 colleges and universities reviewed by the National Research Council, our faculty are in the top quarter in terms of number of publications per faculty member and number of citations in the Social Science Citation Index.

We also applied for many grants to fund our research and were successful in receiving funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Institute of Child Health & Development, the Virginia Tobacco Settlement Foundation, the Jeffress Memorial Trust, and Healthy Families Virginia. This is stunning success for faculty in a primarily undergraduate program. Importantly, these funds have opened up more learning and research opportunities for our students.

As alumni of our program, I hope you take as much pride in the on-going accomplishments of our students and faculty. When you think back over your college days, please remember that the Psychology Department continues to offer exciting and challenging opportunities to our students.  Please think of making a donation to help us even better educate them. Come be a part of the department again!

“Dr. P”