The University of Michigan, an encyclopedic survey ... Wilfred B. Shaw, editor.
University of Michigan.


Since the turn of the century the Psychology Department had been dominated by two men: Walter B. Pillsbury and John F. Shepard. Under Pillsbury's chairmanship the department grew to a staff of eight and established a local reputation as an excellent teaching department with a research emphasis in experimental psychology.

Pillsbury reached the age of retirement in 1942 and it was decided to select a new chairman from outside the department. In the spring of 1945, Donald G. Marquis, then chairman of the Yale University department, accepted the chairmanship. During the war years, Marquis had been in charge of psychological personnel in the national mobilization. In the twelve years of his chairmanship (1945-57) the department's national reputation increased to the point where it was consistently rated one of the top three departments in the country, a position it has continued to maintain. Between 1945 and 1950 the staff increased from eight to forty persons. Some of this growth was due to the need to handle the postwar student increase. In comparison to the last prewar year, by 1950 the University population had increased 72 percent, the number of psychology graduate students, 200 percent, and the departmental staff 400 percent.

Page  208The department began to take on an interdisciplinary character through the extensive use of joint appointments. The number of staff members for whom the department assumed only partial or no salary responsibility increased dramatically. By 1950 only 13 of the 40 persons listed on the department roster drew full salary from its budget.

Psychological activities were recognized wherever they were found in the University. Joint appointments were set up with the School of Education (W. Olson), Sociology (T. Newcomb), the Psychological Clinic (W. Donahue, D. Miller), Bureau of Psychological Services (C. Coombs) and the Counseling Bureau (E. Bordin).

In addition self-financing institutes were invited to move to Ann Arbor to form an association with the University and the department. By 1948 the Survey Research Center and the Institute for Group Dynamics were already established on campus with over two dozen staff members completely supported from proceeds derived from outside contracts, grants, and services. The next year the two units joined in a single administration to form the Institute for Social Research. During the late 1950s and 1960s new units such as the Center for Research on Utilization of Scientific Knowledge and the Center for Political Studies were established within the Institute making it an outstanding center of theoretical and applied social science. The Mental Health Research Institute and the Vision Research Laboratory were other units which Marquis helped to establish at the University.

This "open door" policy toward joint appointments was not a mere courtesy move. These staff members have been encouraged to participate fully in departmental activities. They teach courses, chair and serve on doctoral committees, and help execute programs of instruction and research. As of 1970, the department held joint appointments with at least twenty-five other University units, offered joint or cross-listed courses with five other departments, and participated in at least five joint programs.

The distinction that Michigan enjoys in the area of social psychology can be attributed in large measure to the cooperative efforts of the department with other University Page  209institutes and departments. In the late 1940s the Joint Program in Social Psychology was established with the Department of Sociology. Each department contributed resources to the program which was administered by a joint committee from both departments. Under the distinguished leadership of Theodore Newcomb and Daniel Katz the program became a national model for the effectiveness of interdisciplinary efforts. In the almost twenty years of its existence the Joint Program in Social Psychology produced around 150 Ph.D.s. Every year numerous foreign scholars, attracted by the cooperative efforts of the two departments and by the associated research institutes come to Michigan to work.

By 1968, however, the administrative difficulties encountered by the joint committee became too complex for the separate departments to resolve and the cooperative program was discontinued. Each department, however, continued to offer separate work in social psychology jointly utilizing each other's courses.

Undergraduate instruction was also uniquely addressed. A coordinator of the introductory course was established to supervise the graduate students who led the discussion sections. The group met weekly to discuss problems of teaching. These seminars on teaching became an effective training ground for the preparation of college teachers. It has been widely copied at many other institutions.

Similarly Marquis supported efforts to improve the total undergraduate curriculum. When Dael Wolfle, Executive Officer of the American Psychological Association, persuaded the Grant Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation to fund a study of undergraduate instruction in psychology in 1951, Marquis accepted and administered the grants. The University of Michigan was the first university to put the recommendations of the resulting study group into effect. A similar study group met at the University of Michigan in 1961 and Michigan faculty members carried out a national survey for the American Psychological Association in 1970.

A senior honors program was established in 1950-51 to enhance the educational opportunity of the most gifted concentrates. Approximately 10 percent of concentrates were selected to participate in a two-semester seminar concerned Page  210with major works while each student pursued an empirical research project individually under close faculty tutelage and then presented a written report in the form of an honors thesis to justify the citation "Honors in Psychology" on the degree. The honors program provided a model for independent study, an opportunity now extended to many non-honors concentrates.

The enthusiasm of this new program, joined with that from a few other departments, English in particular, was expressed in the establishment of several L.S.&A. committees: Honors Citations (1952), Honors Programs (1953), and Curricular Flexibility for Superior Students (1955). The report of the Committee on Honors Programs, under the chairmanship of Atkinson (1954-55), surveyed the state of honors programs in the College and became the focal point of a strong wave of interest to extend this kind of program beyond the 36 percent of departments already having some form of special opportunity for superior talent. This particular committee gave birth to the concept of an honors college within the College which eventually came about with the establishment of the Honors Council and the College Honors Program. That followed a subsequent (1956) report of the Committee on Curricular Flexibility for Superior Students, also chaired by a psychologist, E. Lowell Kelly.

Marquis resigned in 1957. In his twelve years at Michigan the curriculum had been modernized, the staff had increased in numbers and distinction, and its productivity was nationally known. The number of Ph.D.s produced by the department (in five year intervals) had increased from 18 (1941-45), to 37 (1946-50), 129 (1951-55), 120 (1956-60) respectively.

E. Lowell Kelly became acting chairman in 1957 and continued as chairman from 1958 until 1962. Under a new organizational plan the staff was organized into interest areas under the direction of a number of area coordinators. These divisions were: Experimental (including engineering psychology), Clinical, Physiological, Mathematical, Personality and Developmental, Industrial, and General. The activities of the subdisciplines were regulated centrally through the Departmental Office of Graduate Studies.

Page  211A vital aspect of this plan was the opportunity it provided for students and faculty having similar interests to organize their activities in a more effective and intimate manner. This means of organizing curriculum and faculty responsibility allowed the program to expand without suffering the worst features of size — impersonality and a breakdown of student-staff communication.

Wilbert J. McKeachie became acting chairman in 1961 and chairman in 1962 and remained in that position through 1971. The consolidation of the earlier gains had been accomplished and now there were new opportunities requiring expansion. During this period the staff (now including a limited number of advanced graduate student "Associates") increased from 90 to a peak of almost 200.

Michigan was by now well known as being outstanding in clinical and social psychology, but excellence in experimental psychology had not yet been achieved. Staff additions were brought in to help build this area, and the clinical area was strengthened by establishing cordial relations and joint appointments with the Department of Psychiatry to provide new opportunities for the training of clinical psychology interns.

The department pioneered programs in social psychology, mathematical psychology, and clinical psychology. During the sixties, the department continued to produce outstanding students in these fields and built upon the foundation laid down by Marquis and Kelly in human information processing, brain and behavior, organizational psychology, and school psychology. In addition, new graduate programs were inaugurated in developmental psychology, community psychology, and psycholinguistics. The Ph.D. production remained high; 142 between 1961 and 1965, and 148 between 1966 and 1970.

A novel undergraduate development was the Outreach Project which was started by Richard Mann in the mid-sixties in the response to student's demands for relevance in their education. This program offered students the opportunity to do volunteer work in a variety of community human-service facilities. During this period it was not unusual for as many as two-thirds of the students in the introductory course to enroll in the Outreach Project.

Page  212McKeachie was succeeded in the chairmanship by J. E. Keith Smith.