Colorado State’s Psychology Department Named Program of Excellence by Colorado Commission on Higher Education

The psychology department at Colorado State University today was named a Program of Excellence by the Colorado Commission on Higher Education.

The honor marks the eighth program at Colorado State to earn the prized designation. The department will receive, pending legislative approval, $700,000 over the next five years to support ongoing programs on managed care in the mental health field.

Faculty from counseling psychology and the Tri-Ethnic Center for Prevention Research will build upon departmental efforts already initiated in managed care.

Scott Hamilton, professor of psychology and department chairman, said the program proposal was" set up to use these funds to involve as much of the campus community as possible," enabling psychologists to work with other health-care professionals in dealing with managed care practices now being applied to mental health treatment in the United States.

"The Program of Excellence award will enable us to put together interdisciplinary colloquia and workshops for psychologists, social workers, occupational therapists, music therapists, human development specialists and others," he said. "We’ll be able to invite nationally known experts on managed mental health care, videotape and edit their presentations and make these archives available to faculty at Colorado State and other Colorado universities.

"We expect to organize interactive video conferences, and we plan to arrange internships in local managed-care organizations and provide both faculty and graduate students with the latest in research, information retrieval and teaching technologies."

Ernest Chavez is administrative director of the Tri-Ethnic Center, which conducts basic research on drug use, delinquency, violence and related issues among ethnic youths as well as domestic violence in rural ethnic communities. He said the award will enhance the center’s extensive links with training programs across the state that use innovative intervention strategies with culturally diverse populations.

That will not only improve training for Colorado State graduate students but improve services for clients, Chavez said. He added that the award validates the Tri-Ethnic Center’s efforts with young people.

"First and foremost, the award is statewide recognition of the Tri-Ethnic Center’s mission, of its credibility and its contributions. To achieve that designation is a very positive outcome."

The funding will allow Colorado State psychologists and other faculty to address two intersecting national problems, said John Raich, dean of the College of Natural Sciences.

"Our growing awareness of the personal and social costs of mental health problems and the importance of treatment is coming up against legitimate concerns about health care cost containment, as evidenced by the growth in managed care," Raich said. "I believe our psychology faculty, with their established tradition of excellence in teaching and research, can make significant contributions to solving this problem."

The psychology department, with 30 faculty, instructs more than 600 undergraduate majors and offers master’s and doctoral degrees in counseling, experimental and industrial/organizational psychology.

Colorado State is among the top institutions in the state in the number of Programs of Excellence. The awards were established in 1988 by the Colorado legislature to encourage excellence in the state’s institutions of higher education. Winners are selected on the basis of the quality of the educational experience they provide, the accomplishments of students and faculty and the programs’ contributions to the state of Colorado.

Colorado State’s other seven Programs of Excellence are the Animal Reproduction and Biotechnology Laboratory, the Center for Biomedical Research in Music, the Center for Research on Writing and Communication Technologies, the Department of Chemistry, Project Promise, Water Resources Education and the Professional Veterinary Medicine program.