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Thursday, April 18
The Indiana Daily Student

academics & research

Psychology department celebrates 125th anniversary


When former University president William Lowe Bryan built the first psychology lab at IU in 1888, he established a 125-year legacy of the study of the mind.

Nearly 300 faculty, alumni and students gathered in Franklin Hall Friday for the 125th Psychology Anniversary Banquet.

It was the largest event ever held in the history of the Department of Psychology, department science writer Liz Rosdeitcher said.

“I think it’s really important for the people who have worked here a long time to see this all come together,” Rosdeitcher said.

Plaques were given to 16 emeritus faculty, many of whom were praised for hardly leaving the school after their retirements.

Their combined time of service to the department added up to 547 years, department chair Bill Hetrick said.

Thirty-eight years is the average time a full-time faculty member has spent at IU during his or her career, he said.

“We’re standing on the shoulders of some amazing professors and researchers,” Hetrick said. “When we say the department is excellent, we’re really saying the faculty is excellent.”

He presented a slideshow of photos chronicling back to the department’s 50th anniversary in 1938, when it had six faculty members including the department’s father, B.F. Skinner, the founder of modern behaviorism.  

One of the photos showed late IU psychology professor Phillip Summers in his IU attire. He was pictured with a Psychology 101 class on a field trip to a Little 500 race.

The room burst with in-memoriam applause for the professor, who died of a heart attack Oct. 1.

Hetrick said young minds are keeping the department alive, too.

“If we don’t train our students, our legacy only lives as long as we do,” Hetrick said.

He said it was special to see alumni and professors of all ages connect in the same place.

“It’s remarkable to have the alumni back,” he said. “They’re fresh into the field, and it’s invigorating. You can feel their energy.”

After dinner, forks clinked glasses and the room grew silent as Hetrick stepped back to the podium.

As the oldest psychology department at a university in the country, Hetrick pointed out the responsibility that comes with the long history.

“After all this, we have a lot to be proud of,” he said. “But we don’t stop here. We should never, ever hesitate to further our cause.”

Follow reporter Ashley Jenkins on Twitter @ashmorganj.

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