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What makes a graduate program the APAGS Department of the Year? Dedication to nurturing student teachers, attention to students' professional development and an emphasis on student-faculty interaction, say students at the University of Central Florida (UCF), winner of the 2004 award. APAGS-the American Psychological Association of Graduate Students-grants the $1,000 prize annually to an outstanding psychology department nominated by its students.

UCF graduate student Renee DeRouin accepted the 2004 award on behalf of the UCF psychology department at APA's 2004 Annual Convention in Honolulu in August; the department will use the money to fund graduate student travel to psychology research conferences.

The UCF psychology department offers master's programs in industrial-organizational (I/O) psychology and clinical psychology, and doctoral programs in human factors, I/O and clinical psychology. I/O doctoral student DeRouin, who nominated the department, says the faculty value mentoring, take time for student development and often tap student input for curriculum and long-term planning.

For example, faculty and administrators sought student feedback during a recent search for a new department chair, and plans are under way to involve them in student recruitment too. In the I/O program, adds DeRouin, students meet regularly with the program director to discuss program changes and suggest ways to improve program offerings.

"The faculty view students as future colleagues," says DeRouin.

Meanwhile, the new psychology chair, former Rice University professor Robert Dipboye, PhD, points to the many opportunities for student teaching. Indeed, students can teach at any of four regional campuses that make up UCF and boost their teaching skills through the Student Teaching Apprentice Mentorship Program. Through the program, students choose a teaching mentor who helps them build their course curricula and offers teaching advice and psychosocial support. The department also rewards outstanding student teaching through an annual award. And more student-friendly offerings-such as a psychology graduate student common area-are in the works. 

The nomination deadline for the 2005 APAGS Department of the Year award is June 1. For more information, visit the APAGS Web site


Previous APAGS Department of the Year Award winners:

2003: University of South Florida, Department of Psychology
2002: Marquette University, Department of Counseling and Educational Psychology
2001: University of Florida Health Sciences Center, Department of Clinical and Health Psychology
2000: University of Missouri–Columbia, Department of Educational and Counseling Psychology
1999: University of South Dakota, Department of Psychology
1998: University of Iowa, Department of Psychology