According to Princeton Review’s "Gourman Report of Undergraduate Programs”, the University of Illinois Psychology Department now ranks 7th in the country for quality of overall education. Furthermore, US News and World Reports ranks its graduate program 7th nationally. If you are a graduate of this fine program, I hope you are proud to have a degree from such a world class institution.
It takes a huge effort to establish and maintain a high level of academic credibility and recognition. The Psychology Alumni Advisory Board was established 10 years ago to assist the Department in strengthening its activities to ensure that both undergraduate and graduate programs remain competitive and offer their students the skills and job opportunities necessary for them to be successful post-graduation. Current Department rankings suggest we have made a difference.
Shape the Future Today Fund
Over the last 10 years, the advisory board has worked closely with faculty, staff, alumni, and other U of I service groups to create a host of programs and events tailored to go beyond the academic rigors of the Department. In response to the critical budget crisis impacting the Psychology Department, the Shape the Future Fund was created 6 years ago to solicit donations from alumni to help offset the budget shortfall. To date, the Shape the Future Fund has generated over $140,000. The Fund has helped over 20 undergraduate psychology students receive need-based funding for internships.
Alumni Advisory Board Conference Travel & Research Award
The Fund also provides financial assistance to graduate students for conference-related travel or research expenses so that their research could be shown to the scientific community. Over the past 3 years, approximately 50 graduate students per year have benefited from the Fund. Finally, several significant classroom technology upgrades were made that improved the learning experience. Without this financial assistance, none of these accomplishments could be achieved.
Undergraduate Mentoring Initiatives
The Board also worked in concert with the Department to implement a psychology capstone course concentrating on internships – a growing requirement for students seeking full time jobs upon graduation.
An annual leadership development workshop for psychology students was created to provide much needed job skills training such as resume writing, job interviewing techniques, and networking advice. These popular workshops have been attended by students across all four classes.
Mentoring activities have played a crucial role in preparing psychology undergraduates with career guidance advice. The Department’s alumni network has responded enthusiastically to volunteer their time and business knowledge with our First Friday series offering insights and strategies into how psychology majors can apply their degrees to a wide variety of career fields. There have been over 60 First Friday events conducted and over 70 alumni sharing their stories. More are scheduled for the remainder of this academic year.
There has been one common thread that underlies the accomplishments of the board over the past 10 years. That thread is YOU – esteemed alumni who care to give back to a world class department. The Board needs your continued assistance. Work with us to grow the Psychology Department to even further heights. Be a mentor and spend an hour on campus with students who may have similar dreams as you did. Become a Board member and work with us to develop new strategies that readies students for life after college. Give to the Shape the Future Fund and help a student shine. The Psychology Department’s future is bright. With you, it is even brighter.
To learn how you can get involved in the Board’s activities, please contact Ryan Leskis, Stewardship & Alumni Relations Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more about the Shape the Future Fund and its impact on the educational experience of Psychology students: here.
Michael Walker (Ph.D. 1996)
President, Psychology Alumni Advisory Board
John Shustitzky (B.S. '73; M.S. '75;Ph.D. '79)
Vice President, Psychology Alumni Advisory Board