By Charles Ratliff
Arizona Daily Wildcat
When faculty failed to resolve personal and professional conflicts within the Department of Educational Psychology, UA Provost Paul Sypherd stepped in.
In a memo dated Sept. 22, Sypherd placed educational psychology into receivership and made College of Education Dean John Taylor acting department head.
Essentially, the memo moved the position, previously held by educational psychology professor Tom Good, into the hands of Taylor.
"Over the past year and a half, Dean Taylor and I have worked diligently to improve the conditions in the Department of Educational Psychology," Sypherd said in his memo.
"We have made numerous attempts to allow the faculty to solve their own problems, but they have failed to do so, and we have come to understand that the problems cannot be resolved under the current structure," he said.
Sypherd's memo pointed out that students have suffered, the reputation of the department has deteriorated, the divisiveness among faculty has accelerated and negative effects on the college have increased.
Sypherd said in the memo that both the department and college would benefit from placing educational psychology into receivership under the dean, transferring the school psychology program to the Department of Special Education and Rehabilitation and transferring some faculty members to other units on campus.
Taylor could not be reached and Good refused to comment.
The school psychology program prepares doctoral students for either post-graduate psychology practice or for positions as school psychologists within school districts.
Lawrence Aleamoni, professor of educational psychology, said admissions into the department were suspended pending the outcome of an internal and external committee evaluation as established by Sypherd's memo.
Aleamoni said the committee is in the process of evaluating the departmental structure and will hopefully make a recommendation by March 1996 on what configuration the department should take and what areas need to be strengthened.
Aleamoni said it is hard to tell when the department would return to a normal status.
"It probably would've been good to evaluate first before making any changes," he said.
"Most of the faculty have never had this type of experience," said Shitala Mishra, professor of educational psychology. "It has generated a lot of confusion."
Aleamoni said there is "a lot of concern" among the faculty and students.
The reorganization of the department shouldn't affect the undergraduate students and master's candidates, Aleamoni said, although at the doctoral level, an issue of accreditation remains unresolved. Even though doctoral students are eligible to be admitted into the program, none are being accepted, and only students already in the program are being allowed to finish.
Steven Johnson, an educational psychology graduate student, said because he has lost his work study grants and financial aid he will have to relocate to another school and take classes as a non-matriculating graduate student.
"I will try to indoctrinate myself into their research," he said. "At this point, that's hard to do."
Johnson said he was not accepted into the program despite holding two bachelor's degrees and one master's degree from the UA.
"The school psychology faculty felt we were not moving forward in the Educational Psychology Department because of the turmoil that was going on," said Richard Morris, professor of educational psychology and school psychology program director.
Morris said the faculty proposed to Taylor that the program move outside of the Educational Psychology Department, and presented Taylor with three or four ideas in a memo and conveyed one possibility to Taylor verbally.
"We requested no action be taken until specific resources were addressed," Morris said, such as secretarial support and the inclusion of graduate assistants.
One of the proposed moves was to the Department of Special Education and Rehabilitation. Somehow, Morris said, the decision was made without any consultation with the program faculty.
"The move came without first addressing those resource issues," Morris said. He said the move came a week to 10 days after Sypherd's memo to the educational psychology faculty.
"I think the move for doctoral level students has been more problematic because their faculty is in special education and rehabilitation, but their program is in ed. psych.," Morris said.
Morris said this presents a problem because, in order for the program to maintain accreditation with the American Psychological Association, it has to remain housed in a psychology-based department.
"If the students were brought down, they would no longer be in a psychology program," Morris said.
What this does, Morris said, is ensure that the students receive their degree in a psychology department.
Morris, who has served on the state board of psychologists, said state law says students have to graduate from an accredited program in order to receive their licenses.
"Right now, the status of the program is in question," Morris said. He said the APA sent Taylor a letter asking for clarification concerning the Educational Psychology Department situation.
"They are asking for a response by March," Morris said.
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