The Department of Psychology was founded in 1937, when then-University President Byrd recruited and appointed John G. Jenkins as Chair. Jenkins arrived at College Park in 1938 and formed a five-person department of psychology. The organizing theme around which Jenkins built the Department was "Psychotechnology" by which he meant the use of controlled observation and statistical analyses to answer questions from areas such as industrial and clinical psychology. Although having an applied focus the foundation of this new department was squarely placed on the research aspects of these applied questions.
The Department of Psychology granted its first Ph.D. in 1941. In 1954, the department initiated the Institute of Applied Psychology, the forerunner of our current Social, Decisional, and Organizational Science program. The 1960-1961 academic year also saw the start of the department's Mental Health Program, which consisted of Clinical Psychology, Counseling Psychology, and the Community Mental Health (to later become Clinical) program. In subsequent years the department developed growing areas of expertise in sensory and perceptual processes, neuroethology, cognitive neuroscience and research in social and cultural processes. To accommodate the growing faculty, diverse lab requirements, and the larger undergraduate major, the Department of Psychology moved into the Biology-Psychology Building which was formally dedicated in April 1972 (at that time called the Zoology-Psychology building).
The Department of Psychology has evolved over the decades to become a leading academic department within the University of Maryland System's flagship campus at College Park. The applied domains considered in the Department's founding 79 years ago are still represented within our department but have become seamlessly integrated within a collaborative faculty that conducts translational research from cellular and neural systems to individual and group behavior. Our faculty has grown from the original 5 members in 1938 to 33 tenured/tenure-track faculty and over 8 professional-track faculty members. Following an intensive self-study and external review, in 2007 the Department of Psychology undertook a major reorganization that sought to better reflect our faculty strengths and active research and training programs. This reorganization led to the integration of 8 areas in to the 5 areas currently within the department: Clinical; Counseling; Cognitive and Neural Systems; Developmental; and Social and Organizational Sciences. These areas are designed to have permeable boundaries and most faculty have active research collaborations spanning multiple areas. Our Department fosters a highly integrative and collegial environment that enhances our research and training mission.