School Psychology Program - Historical Statement

Historical Development and Governance

The School Psychology Programs at The University of Memphis were initially founded in 1976, when the MA/EdS program was jointly started by the Department of Psychology and the College of Education (COE). The new program was established following changes in the requirements for the Tennessee State Department of Education certification (now licensure) of school psychologists (circa 1975) and the need for a revised school psychology program at what was then called Memphis State University.  The revised program was developed by the School Psychology Coordinating Committee (SPCC), which was established at the request of the Vice President for Academic Affairs.  The SPCC functioned as the policy-making body for the jointly sponsored MA/EdS program until August 2015.  The new MA program was the first instance of a school psychology specific degree at The University of Memphis. Dr. Thomas Fagan, the first school psychology faculty member, was hired in 1976. He served the program for 45 years until he retired in fall 2021; he is now professor emeritus. Dr. Bruce Bracken served the program from 1986-1999, and Dr. Wendy Naumann served from 1998-2001. Dr. Randy Floyd joined the faculty in 2001, and Dr. Robin Phaneuf served from 2002-2006.  Dr. Elizabeth Meisinger joined the faculty in 2007, and Dr. Xu (Lilya) Jiang served from 2015-2020. Dr. Sarah Irby joined the faculty in 2020. Dr. Ryan Farmer and Dr. Emily Srisarajivakul joined the faculty in 2022. Drs. Srisarajivakul, Meisinger, Irby, Floyd, and Farmer constitute the core program faculty and are supported by faculty in other areas of the Psychology Department, the COE, and local practitioners who assist in field supervision.

Based out of the Psychology Department, the jointly sponsored MA/EdS program was indirectly overseen by the Dean of the COE and the Chair of the Psychology Department until 2015.  The MA/EdS program was governed by a 10-member SPCC.  All policies and curricula related to this program were the responsibility of the committee and were implemented by the MA/EdS program Director.  The SPCC developed a set of policy statements for the program as well as the original 45-semester-hour MA degree in 1975-1976. The current 60-66 semester-hour combined MA/EdS degree curriculum was initiated in 1982.  The PhD program was initiated in 1991 but governed by the policies of the Psychology Department's PhD major.  Program curricula and requirements for the different programs (MA/EdS and MS/PhD) were determined entirely by the SPCC and by the Psychology Department, respectively. Starting in the fall of 2014, the directorship of the two programs was divided to accommodate the growth of the doctoral program. The programs continued to overlap is several areas of the curriculum and other areas (e.g., the School Psychology Association and practica).

In the summer of 2015 at a meeting of the core faculty with the UM Provost, the Interim Dean of the College of Education, and the chair of the Department of Psychology, it was agreed to restructure the governance of the MA/EdS program by drawing it into the governance of the Psychology Department.  A revised School Psychology Program Committee (SPPC) was created to oversee the MA/EdS and the MS/PhD programs. The 2015 restructured governance arrangement retains the separate directorships, and the chair of the SPPC rotates between the two directors.

The MA/EdS program has been accredited by NASP/NCATE (now CAEP) since the 1970s and first received NCATE/NASP approval in 1988.  This approval has been uninterrupted and is active through December 2024. Accreditation of the PhD program from the American Psychological Association was awarded in fall, 2014 and the next site visit is expected in 2022.