Department History

Psychology Department History

As Eastern celebrated its 125th anniversary, academic departments were encouraged to participate in the celebration. Dr. Lyndsey Lanagan-Leitzel volunteered to research the history of the department and has become the unofficial department historian.

The Science of Psychology at Eastern: A Look Back as We Move Forward (October 30, 2014) View video

When did Psychology begin at Eastern?

The answer to that question depends on how you define the beginning.

You could define “the beginning” by when the first psychology course was offered. That was Education 103a, Psychology, first required of all freshmen beginning in Fall 1954. This course became PSY 100 in 1958, which it has remained since.

You could also define the beginning of Psychology at Eastern by when its first faculty member was hired. Leo Schneiderman joined the faculty in the 1956-1957 academic year. Leo was a clinical psychologist by training with a background in psychoanalysis. Prior to teaching, Leo worked as a clinical psychologist at the Galesburg State Research Hospital in Galesburg, Illinois and the VA Hospital in Lebanon, Pennsylvania. He also served in the United States Army Air Force in 1945 – 1946. Leo taught numerous courses that represented his devotion to students and their intellectual advancement – developmental courses, several clinical courses, American National Character (which one would assume would be a Cold-War Era pro-America course, but was actually about the typical American personality), and Psychology of Literature, where students psychoanalyzed characters from literary works.

You could also define the beginning of Psychology at Eastern by when students could first declare Psychology as their major. That was in the Fall of 1966. The curriculum then was very different than it is now. Students were required to complete 33 semester hours, or 11 courses in Psychology. These included six required courses beyond Psy. 100:

  • Psy. 200: Psychology of Personality
  • Psy. 202: Social Psychology
  • Psy. 203: Abnormal Psychology
  • Psy. 210: Psychology of Thinking
  • Psy. 306: Culture and Personality
  • Psy. 310: Psychological Tests and Measurements

Four of these courses continue to be taught today, although of course they have changed through the years. The other two courses – Psychology of Thinking and Culture and Personality – were discontinued and they seem to have been partially reborn. Psychology of Thinking seems to be a forerunner of Cognitive Psychology and Culture and Personality has reappeared in our major today as Culture and Psychology (today’s course covers much more than personality).

This page is still under construction. Stay tuned for more!