Historically, 1873 was the first year that an academic course, taught out of the newly established Mississippi College School of Moral Philosophy, included content related to psychology. It was not until 18 years later, in 1891, that Dr. William Sheldon Webb, a former President of Mississippi College, was appointed the first Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Ethics. A structural home for the emerging concepts of psychology - the School of Psychology, Ethics and Logic - was subsequently created in 1898. In 1914, Dr. W. H. Weathersby introduced a full course called Educational Psychology, and by 1919, Weathersby was named Head of the new Department of Education and Psychology, offering courses in General Psychology, Human Psychology, Educational Psychology, Mental Tests, and Educational Tests and Measurements. By 1933, courses were being offered in Child Psychology and Adolescent Psychology. A new Department of Education, Psychology, and Philosophy was established in 1940 and course offerings expanded to include Social Psychology, Applied Psychology and Abnormal Psychology. Two years later, a name change resulted in the Department of Psychology and Philosophy with the addition of a new course in Statistics. The first Bachelor of Arts in Psychology was offered as an undergraduate degree in 1945, which was also the first year that the Mississippi College catalog listed a separate Department of Psychology. Clinical Psychology was added as a course that same year.
In 1950, Dr. Charles W. Scott began the Counseling Education Program, the first of its kind created by a Baptist College. Dr. Scott developed a curriculum that allowed graduate students to earn a Master’s degree in counseling and receive AA state certification for School Counseling. In 1959, the name “Department of Education and Psychology” was adopted and the department moved to its current location in Lowrey Hall. Dr. Scott applied for and received a three-year National Defense Education Act (NDEA) grant that ran from 1961 to 1963. With those funds, he created the Counseling and Guidance Training Institute at Mississippi College that served not only Mississippi, but also Alabama, Louisiana and Arkansas. The NDEA grant funds paid for tape recorders, sound equipment, and one-way mirrors for use in teaching counseling techniques. They also paid, in 1961, for Dr. E.G. Williamson, Dean of Students and Professor of Psychology at the University of Minnesota, to come to Mississippi College as a visiting lecturer. Dr. Donald E. Super, of the Department of Psychological Foundations and Services at Columbia University, was the NDEA lecturer in 1963.
In 1969, Mississippi College signed a Compliance Agreement so that there would be no discrimination in the admission or treatment of any student on account of national origin, race or color. Over the next two decades, from 1970 to 1990, a School of Education emerged at Mississippi College with the renamed Department of Psychology and Counseling housed there along with the Departments of Teacher Education and Family and Consumer Sciences. The inclusion of the word “counseling” in the department name meant that counselor training would continue to receive the attention it needed. Masters Programs in Guidance and Counseling, Community Counseling, and School Psychometry were created during that time as well as an Education Specialist in School Counseling Program. Also, the Department of Sociology and Social Work established a Masters program in Marriage and Family Counseling. A wide-ranging counseling curriculum was crafted to support those programs.
During the decade of the 1990's, the department became even more innovative while attempting to provide students with the best possible counselor training. The Center for Reality Therapy was established within the department early in that decade. Four faculty members pursued and obtained Reality Therapy Certifications so they could serve as instructors and supervisors for courses jointly sponsored by Mississippi College and the William Glasser Institute. Over 100 graduate students have completed the course work and training necessary to become Reality Therapy Certified. Department faculty also helped write a three-year continuing education grant to sponsor the Entergy Institute, a program funded to train school counselors in the latest aspects of vocational, lifestyle, and career counseling. Counselors from Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas were able to benefit from that training. The department maintained its tradition of bringing in guest instructors and lecturers of national and international renown, with the list including Dr. Albert Ellis, Columbia University; Dr. William Glasser, the William Glasser Institute; Dr. Gerald Corey, California State University - Fullerton; Dr. John Wiesz, University of California at Los Angeles; and Dr. David Clark, University of Toronto, Canada.
The department has now upgraded and renamed the counseling programs and consolidated counseling programs on campus by incorporating the Marriage and Family Therapy program into the department. Four counseling programs now exist: the Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling (60 semester hours); the Master of Science in Marriage and Family Counseling (60 semester hours); the Master of Education in School Counseling (48 semester hours); and the Education Specialist in School Counseling (66 semester hours or 18 hours beyond the Master’s degree).
A portion of the information on the history of psychology and counseling at Mississippi College from 1873 through 1980 included above was drawn primarily from works written by Jaime Knight (B.S. 1998) and Jennifer Owen (B.S. 1998) under the supervision of Andrew J. Velkey, II, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychology.