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UWRF to instate first health psychologist

April 3, 2008

Next fall the psychology department will offer classes taught by the first health psychologist ever hired in the department.

Health Psychologist Todd Wilkinson is one of the new psychology department hires whose contracts will hopefully be finalized next week according to associate dean and former psychology department chairman, Brad Caskey.

“It is exciting for the department to have young, new ideas,” Caskey said.  The department now has a better mix of young and older faculty.”

Once they are signed, Wilkinson’s contract will not take effect until August, when he will begin teaching full time.

“Health Psychology is a whole new area of expertise, he [Wilkinson] will bring in new expertise we don’t have,” psychology professor Travis Tubre said. “So it is very exciting, and it makes our department more diverse.”

Tubre was also the chair of the search committee in charge of hiring the new professors.  The committee included department faculty, out-of-department faculty and senior psychology major Hannah Davidson.

“Students have a different mindset about what they want to see in a professor,” Tubre said. “It [having a student on the committee] brings a level of commitment to UW goals.

Davidson was the only student on the search committee and said it was a little intimidating, but enjoyed the experience.

“I learned a lot from the experience,” Davidson said. “I never realized how much is involved in the search and hire process.”

Search committees are formed all over campus to coordinate new hires. After the application deadline the psychology search committee reviewed the applications, conducted phone interviews and did reference checks.

“We looked at their training and education, as well as teaching experience,” Tubre said. “We also looked at their research and if there was a student connection to research, and if they were committed to diversity, because that is very important on this campus.”

The committee narrowed the search down to five applicants who were brought to campus to give 50-minute presentations, or teach a mock-class.

“I thought he [Wilkinson] did a wonderful job. He spoke about research on the psychology of eating,” Davidson said. “His presentation was interesting, well organized, interactive and fun.”