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Release: Immediate

UI psychology department named "Department of the Year" by national association

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa department of psychology has been named Psychology Department of the Year by the American Psychological Association for Graduate Students (APAGS). This is the first year the association has given this award, which recognizes the department that has "exemplified a superior level of assistance and attention to student needs as well as excellent faculty-student relations."

Michael O'Hara, chairman of the UI psychology department, said the award was a "nice recognition of our graduate program and our efforts to provide a comfortable yet challenging academic environment for our graduate students."

Linda Maxson, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, said she was thrilled that the psychology department had been honored with the very first Department of the Year award. "To be designated the top department by this national association is wonderful recognition for our department of psychology," she said. "The faculty and students deserve high praise for creating and maintaining such a fine graduate program."

O'Hara said the award should help the department to be more competitive in attracting the very best students to the UI. "In general, the award will increase our national visibility and call attention to our fine faculty and graduate students," he said.

The department will receive a plaque from the APAGS and $1,000 to be used for programs or resources to benefit graduate students. The department has not yet determined specifically how it will use the award money, but possibilities include new furniture for the graduate student lounge, additional funds for graduate student travel, and additional support for graduate student research.

O'Hara and David Schwebel, the UI representative to the association, prepared a detailed, three-page description of the department as part of their application for the award. In it they outlined four primary areas that characterize the department's commitment to its graduate students: financial resources, physical resources, program requirements, and faculty-student relationships.

In a letter informing the department of its award, Mitch Prinstein, the APAGS chairman wrote, "We would like to thank the faculty, staff, and students within your department for helping to create an excellent environment for the graduate study of psychology and a model for superior faculty-student relations. We received many nominations for this new prestigious award. Our unanimous decision to select the University of Iowa as our first Department of the Year is truly an honor."

The APAGS is a branch of the American Psychological Association whose goal is to address the needs and concerns of psychology graduate students and to provide the means for graduate students to become involved in advocacy for psychology. The group has 41,000 members nationwide and celebrates its 10th anniversary this year.