75 Years later, Psychology department Still Going Strong
Since its inception in 1933, Fordham’s Department of Psychology has evolved from just a few lab courses in the Woolworth Building to one of the most respected departments within the university.
Today, as the department gears up for its 75th anniversary, it is also working to raise its profile through a series of initiatives and programs designed to serve the neighboring communities of the Bronx and northern Manhattan.
The department is planning a full-service, off-campus, mental-health clinic and community center for low-income residents. The facility will open sometime next year.
“[When it opens] the center will showcase what Fordham can do in a struggling neighborhood,” said Frederick Wertz, Ph.D., professor and chair of the department. “We are such a service-oriented community that if all our energies are infused into the neighborhood surrounding Rose Hill, we will help the Bronx fulfill its potential.”
Anne Higgins D’Alessandro, Ph.D., professor and graduate director of the applied development program, said the center, as a fully integrated scholarly and practical program, will provide students—particularly those enrolled in the department’s applied development program (ADP)—with real-world experience and original research to augment their coursework.
“From the ADP perspective, the kind of direct services will give [graduate] students a full experience,” she said. “But the most important thing will be to help the Bronx agencies that provide services to the community.”
As the department deploys its best and the brightest out into the world, it is also looking to strengthen its academic credentials within the University. For example, the department is in the process of exploring the potential feasibility of a new doctoral program in cognition, brain and behavior. Currently, the department offers doctoral programs in clinical, applied development and psychometric psychology.
The department is also working, in collaboration with the Graduate School of Education and the Graduate School of Business Administration, to develop a new professional master’s degree program in applied psychological methods.
These and other recent initiatives by the department are starting to grab the attention of prospective students, according to Wertz. The psychology department received the largest number of applicants for all of GSAS.
“The [departmental] morale is high,” Wertz said. “We are attracting great students and gaining visibility.” At the same time, the department’s professors are flourishing in areas of research. This past academic year, approximately 75 percent of the faculty published various academic journals, while more than half of the faculty participated in funded research. Assistant Professor of Psychology Monica Rivera-Mindt, Ph.D., is currently heading up a $1 million grant project with the National Institute of Health (NIMH) to identify sociocultural barriers that interfere with the ability of Hispanic HIV-positive patients in New York City to take their HIV medication.
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