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History of the Department

The Psychology Department has been housed in Girard Hall since the 1930s and perhaps before then. During 1966 through January, 1967, Girard Hall was renovated. During that time the faculty was housed in 'Little Abbeville'--army barracks remaining on the campus after WW II. The classes were held in some of the old barrack buildings and in Madison and Billeaud Halls. Today, most psychology classes, the offices, and laboratories are housed on the second and third floors of Girard Hall, but other spaces are utilized for large classes and animal research.

In 1938, Dr. Kenneth B. Hait joined the department as assistant head and became head of the department in 1939. During World War II Dr. Hait took a leave of absence from the university and served in the US Army with the selection and placement department. He returned to UL Lafayette after the conflict. Dr. W. Drayton Lewis joined the faculty in the late 1940s or the early 1950s and served until about 1975. Drs. Hait and Lewis vigorously supported the expansion and refinement of the psychology program, shaping the nature of the department today. The Hait-Lewis Award in Psychology was named for these two gentlemen. (Drs. Irby Gaudet, Rex LeBlanc, and Stephen Hotard were instrumental in the creation of this award.)

Dr. Hait continued his tenure as department head until May 1968. He was succeeded by Dr. Lawrence Green, who served until May 1969, when he was appointed Dean of the College of Education. Dr. William Hawkins was then appointed department head. In January, 1970, Dr. B. Geraldine Lambert became the head of the department and served until August, 1981, when Dr. Aline Garrett replaced her.

Until the year 1976, the Psychology Department was financed by the College of Education, and the degree was offered through the College of Liberal Arts. Consequently, the department heads were required to attend two department head meetings -- one for each college. When the College of Liberal Arts was changed in 1978, the department became a part of the new College of Arts, Humanities and Behavioral Sciences. At that time the financing of the department was moved from the College of Education to the College of AH&BS.

For a long history of the Psychology Department has traditionally been a 'service' department, providing courses necessary for degrees in other departments and colleges. Masters level courses offered in the department in the 1960s were utilized by the College of Education for accreditation in Guidance and Counseling. These courses were then used as electives in the new M.S. degree in Rehabilitation Counseling (developed by Drs. Robert Kennedy and Jack Caves) in 1970. The same courses were used for the M.Ed. degree in Guidance and Counselor Education, which was developed by Dr. Lambert and accredited by NCATE in 1972. Additionally, the courses were used for electives in the M.S. degree in psychology (developed by Drs. Hotard, Gaudet, & McWhirter) in 1973. Both of the Master of Science degrees were approved in about 1975 by the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges.

In the Fall of 2004, Dr. Theresa Wozencraft stepped up to lead the faulty as the Department Head after Dr. Garrett retired.  One of the greatest accomplishments during her time as the Department Head was to strongly encourage and foster new teaching and research activities in the department.  Most notably, during Hurricane Katrina, Dr. Wozencraft lead a willing department in accommodating the needs of students who came to the department from other schools in the New Orleans area.  While the department continued helping students from the New Orleans area, Dr. Wozencraft lead the department to help our own students and university family who were impacted by Hurricane Rita.

In 2007, Dr. Cheryl Lynch became the Department Head and brought about major changes in faculty, technology, and support. Specifically, Dr. Lynch has strongly encouraged faulty to be actively involved in the development and implementation of curricula, bettering services offered to students, and seeking support available to faculty.  The department has become a cohesive one, in which every faulty member has become much invested in self-evaluation and evaluation of the program with regards to the goal of student academic and career success. Dr. Lynch retired in 2019, at which point Dr. Amy Brown stepped into the Department Head role. Dr. Brown continues the nearly 50-year tradition of having female department heads.

Since 2015, the graduate program in psychology has shifted from offering both applied and experimental tracks to offering a single Master’s degree in general psychology. This new approach combines the best elements of our previous tracks. The training philosophy for the current Master’s program in psychology is to provide a strong foundation in psychological science, and to help our graduates become competitive for doctoral study in a variety of disciplines within psychology.