June 27, 2011
11-112

Thressea Boyd
Director of Communications

New Psychology and Counseling Building Promotes ResearchOpportunities

VALDOSTA -- Valdosta State University faculty, staff, and students joined members of the community and guests at the dedication of the new Psychology and Counseling Center on June 23.

President Patrick J. Schloss welcomed the guests and applauded the university’s Planning and Budget Council for funding the $5 million project.

Located on main campus within the Pedestrian Mall, the new 33,000-square-foot facility includes six classrooms, two computer labs, a 160-seat auditorium, clinical space, offices for psychology and counseling faculty, and administrative offices for the Graduate School and Sponsored Programs and Research Administration.

The impact on academics will be dramatic according to Dr. Robert Bauer, who has served a head of the Psychology and Counseling Department since 1988.

“The former location of the Department of Psychology and Counseling had limited classrooms in size and number, no research laboratories, and no clinic,” said Bauer, who has taught at Valdosta State for 23 years. “This new building has classroom sizes from exclusive seminar to an auditorium with 160 seats--there are teaching and research laboratories, data collection rooms, and a clinic. Faculty offices are located in the same building, which will allow for a more direct interaction between faculty and students.”

Bauer said that more than a decade ago, when the College of Education was experiencing rapid growth, there was an urgent need to relocate some programs from the Education Center. The Department of Psychology and Counseling moved to the former Georgia Power Building, approximately one mile from main campus on the corner of Gordon and Patterson Street.

“The facility provided pleasant offices but had limited classroom space and no research laboratories or clinics,” Bauer told the more 100 faculty, staff, students and community leaders who attended the official dedication. “We had three classrooms that would accommodate a total of 84 students. There were about 700 students a week taking classes in the previous location. Faculty and students were shuttling back and forth to teach and take classes on the main campus daily.”

The new building, positioned within the academic hub of the campus, provides more opportunities for faculty and students to engage in research and clinical practice.

“In spite of the previously limited facilities, psychology and counseling faculty and students have always done research together,” Bauer said. “This facility will acculturate undergraduate and graduate students in research and scholarly production to the extent not possible before. The opportunities for research, presentation of research, and its publication will grow dramatically.”

Dr. David Monetti, professor and education field experience coordinator, expressed his excitement for the new facility and especially the opportunity for students and faculty to collaborate and expand research activities.

“I am thrilled and we have really been looking forward to the opening of the building,” said Monetti, who arrived at Valdosta State in 1999. “We are excited about the new opportunities that the building presents to our students. This facility will give them a 21st century learning environment complete with technology and lab space that should help us better prepare students to be critical thinkers in a rapidly changing economy. We are very proud of our students and programs. A facility of this quality will truly help us showcase the collaborative research of our faculty and students.”

The new clinic will primarily serve as a training facility and within a year offer services to public schools, courts, rehabilitation services, and other needing psychological and counseling services.

In addition to the new clinic, the Center for the Study of Gifted will be located on the third floor.

Directed by Dr. James Reffel, professor of psychology and counseling, the center will provide assessment, counseling and parent consultation for students identified as gifted.

The Georgia Department of Education defines a gifted education student as one who “demonstrates a high degree of intellectual and/or creative ability(ies), exhibits an exceptionally high degree of motivation, and/or excels in specific academic fields, and who needs special instruction and/or special ancillary services to achieve at levels commensurate with his or her ability(ies).”
With approximately nine percent of Georgia school-aged children identified as “gifted,” Reffel said the new center will deliver vital educational support and resources for students, parents and teachers.

“These students have unique needs, often times there is a myth that gifted children are fine and they will make it on their own--that they do not need any special accommodations or support,” said Reffel, a faculty member since 1997. “In reality they are different from their age-mates and they might have some adjustment problems and certainly their academic needs may not be met. They may not be challenged and as a result they may act out or engage in behaviors such as withdrawing.”

The Savannah firm Elkins Constructors, Inc., served as the general contractor and local firm Ellis, Ricket and Associates provided architectural services.

For more information on the Psychology and Counseling Building, visit http://www.valdosta.edu/news/media/2011/06/psychology/