In February 2020, I was preparing for a conference in Santa Fe, followed by a desperately needed vacation over spring break. Two weeks later, I found myself in a hotel room in Albuquerque, New Mexico, having just hired a new faculty member (welcome, Dr. Alex Tatum!), and learning via email that Ball State was canceling official permission for all domestic and international travel in light of the spreading Covid-19 virus. A week or so after that, the University sent everyone home for the foreseeable future.
Think back: what did “foreseeable” mean to you? A few weeks? A semester? I certainly didn’t expect to be out of my office for months, learning how to dress for Zoom meetings, training students how to do online therapy, and wearing masks in public. Yet, two years later, I have trouble recognizing most of you in person; I only get to see your amazing faces on a computer screen. Then, we have to remind each other to unmute.
Cut to now: Spring semester 2022, and we are still doing telehealth in the clinic and in many of our private practices. We are becoming increasingly comfortable with online courses, virtual meetings, and conferences. We pivot our plans at the drop of a hat when someone says “Sorry. I have to cancel because we are quarantining, or we have Covid.” I never thought I would spend this much time staring at a computer screen or trying to figure out how to conduct a class when a quarter of the students are zooming in. If you had told me five years ago that we would conduct doctoral interview day in a virtual format, I would have privately called you crazy. Obviously, we all need to learn and grow, right? I would say we have certainly done that in these pandemic/syndemic times.
Speaking of changes, the department is feeling the pressure of two faculty departures, as you will note elsewhere in this newsletter. Dr. Ashley Hutchison has resigned her faculty position and is returning to her home in Kansas. She leaves us in a great position, having finished up our accreditation work for the doctoral program, and well on the way to admitting the 2022 doctoral cohort. We wish her, her husband, and their dog all the best in their new adventure. And now it is Dr. Kristin Perrone-McGovern‘s turn to carry us forward.
The second departure is the announcement of Dr. Paul Spengler‘s retirement. He has been a member of the Department of Counseling Psychology, Social Psychology, and Counseling family since 1991. He has advised quite a number of doctoral students, helped countless master’s students find internships, and trained the next generation of emotional focused therapists. We knew this day would come sometime, but sometime was always in the future! Dr. Spengler and his wife are looking forward to plenty of time at their lake cottage in New York.
I need to give a shout-out to the Diversity Committee and Wellness Committee. These two groups of students and faculty are helping us walk the walk with a focus on self-care and on diversity. Please pay attention to their emails, social media posts, and social activities. We can’t spend ALL of our time with our noses in the books.
Finally, I ended the Spring 2021 newsletter with this same paragraph, and it still holds true in 2022. If you are as Zoom-tired as I am, find something else to do that does not require an electronic device. Pick up a board game, a puzzle, or find a good book. Take that random pet for a walk or a run (yes, I have seen cats on a leash). Oh, here’s a good one: actually, TALK to that other human in your house! And if you need something to listen to, try this TED Radio Hour presentation on gratitude by A. J. Jacobs, “What’s the Power of a Simple Thank-you?”
Department Chair of the Department of Counseling Psychology, Social Psychology, and Counseling and Professor of Psychology Counseling