Two years ago, administrators decided that UA Little Rock’s graduate program in psychology would go on hiatus, with 2018 being the first year in which it would not admit any new students. Julien Mirivel, interim associate dean of the College of Social Sciences and Communication, shed some light on the situation in an interview with the Forum.
“The graduate program was placed on hiatus by a decision of the faculty to just reexamine what the curriculum ought to be,” Mirivel said. “How we ought to address contemporary issues in psychology and how to manage all of the resources that we have, both human capital as well as financial resources, and the students needs, to be able to streamline and bring that back to life, potentially.”
Mirivel says the department is looking at some new options for resurrecting the program in a way that will address those issues, but he gave no specifics as to what is being done to improve the program.
“Until we know for sure what exactly it looks like and we’re all on the same table agreeing on what that is, then I’d prefer not to describe the content of that program. I just don’t think we’re ready, quite yet, to get to that. But we are working on it,” Mirivel said.
The dean also said the program is on hiatus because of a lack of resources, including faculty. He denied that the hiatus had anything to do with financial instability and said that the recent drop in enrollment at UA Little Rock was not a deciding factor, as the decision was made before those concerns even appeared.
As for students currently enrolled in the university’s undergraduate psychology program who want to pursue a master’s, Mirivel admitted that he had not thought about that being an issue. After looking online, he cited Arkansas State University and the University of Central Arkansas as other places in the state which offer graduate degrees in psychology.
“We obviously want our students to be able to continue with their graduate degree, but it has to be done in the right context,” Mirivel said. “You have to have faculty commitment to that program, you have to have a graduate coordinator, you have to have a program that makes sense and that offers something unique, you have to have a long term commitment to that program. All of those things have to be in place in order for it to be worthwhile to everybody.”
Mirivel said that Fall 2020 would be a desirable date for the program to resume its usual activity.
“That is a reasonable timeline, because when you make adjustments to curriculum you have to go through a specific process, we have to have the right resources in place, and we want to make sure everyone around the table knows that if we do this: let’s be committed to it in the long term.”