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About this icon's image: A collage of Winthrop Kellogg's photograph and the headline of an article in the New York Times on November 2, 1958, reporting Kellogg's research finding at FSU that porpoises use sonar for navigation and finding food.


PSYCHOLOGY IN FSU'S EARLY YEARS: 1947 - 1960

OVERVIEW

Starting in 1947, the long-established and respected "teaching" role of the Department in the FSCW environment began to undergo a wrenching change to a "teaching-research" department in the new university environment of FSU.


With intentions of eventually competing with the psychology departments in long-established major universities, the Department soon hired new faculty who did the heavy lifting. Approval for a doctoral program was quickly sought and obtained. Faculty applied for and obtained federal funding for research and for graduate training programs. Graduate and undergraduate curricula and areas of focus in teaching were debated. The clinical psychology program applied for, and received, accreditation by the American Psychological Association. A large federal grant to support graduate training in school psychology continued the Department's longstanding links to education. New facilities were planned.


From today's viewpoint, we know that these early efforts laid a very solid foundation for growth. Of course, the way forward was not always clear, and the demands on faculty of teaching and research were relentless. But, the early members of the FSU Department persisted and succeeded.


This section of our Archives provides a glimpse of that era and some of its key people. A before-and-after picture of the Department in the years surrounding the transition from FSCW to FSU can be pieced together from the recollections of faculty who were there.



1950s: Imagining the Department of That Era

It is an interesting exercise to imagine the Department as it was in 1950 and the impressions it made on new faculty ? some older than usual, just coming from years of military service. Most of these faculty were trained in large university departments where psychology was well-established as a mainstream scientific discipline.


Perhaps the most complete description of the early 1950s Department is provided by Walter D. Smith. He came to the new FSU in 1950 right after his Ph.D. in developmental psychology at the University of Michigan. He remained on the faculty for almost a decade before leaving to become an academic dean at Winthrop College in South Carolina. Several decades after he left FSU, Smith (1989) recalled the Department in those years in ways that provide a good sense of being there:


The old department had offered the usual array of undergraduate general, educational, and developmental psychology courses as well as some courses in measurement, personality, and social psychology. Although the department had offered majors to undergraduates it appeared to have given much attention to its service role to other programs such as those in teacher education and home economics.

In 1950 the University was emerging from its many years as the Florida State College for Women. There were some 500 students enrolled. Each year thereafter enrollment grew at a rapid rate; when I left the department in 1959 enrollment was near 9000 for the entire university. The 1950's were exciting years for all the young faculty whose previous teaching experience had been gained as graduate assistants. Inexperienced, young Ph.D.'s were attempting to build a university. The post-war expansion in higher education was underway across the country and was moving at such a pace that experienced college and university professors were in short supply. But the untested faculty members were undaunted by the challenge. Even old timers such as Hugh Waskom had no experience in building "from scratch" a doctoral program in psychology. Most of the faculty, therefore, probably repeated what we had experienced in our recently completed graduate programs. Among those graduate schools represented on the departmental faculty were: George Washington University, University of Michigan, University of Chicago, Columbia University, Indiana University, Johns Hopkins, University of Georgia, and Princeton University. Because many of the faculty members had spent three or four years in the military during World War II, we might have been a bit more mature than the typical new PhD.

In 1950, in addition to their twelve hours, or equivalent, teaching loads faculty members spent many hours each week planning the department's future. Program planning seemed to have focused principally on three major areas of instruction: clinical, experimental-physiological, and child-developmental, although other areas were receiving attention. The debates were lively! Agreements were sometimes long in coming. There were no departmental traditions shaping thinking and actions. University psychology departments may always have difficulty in presenting a united front to their students. A newly organized department surely faces even greater problems in this respect. However, at the end of its first university decade the department's graduate programs were gaining recognition and respectability among other graduate institutions across the country.


DEPARTMENT OF PSYCHOLOGY, 1107 W. CALL STREET, TALLAHASSEE, FL 32306-4301

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