The psychology major is one of the most popular at Stern College, and has, in the past, offered three unique tracks for students to choose from: the general track, the neuroscience track, and the developmental track. This semester, however, as a result of several teachers’ decisions to retire and/or leave the school, the psychology department is experiencing and will continue to experience major changes, including the suspension of the developmental track.
In a conversation with Dr. Bacon, chair of the psychology department, he explained that the developmental track was suspended as a result of Dr. Robin Freyberg’s decision to move to Pittsburgh with her family. As a pillar in the developmental track—Freyberg was responsible for coordinating the program and taught some of the courses—her departure left a deficit in the program. The department felt that it would be a disservice to students if they maintained the track when some of necessary courses could not be offered. Dr. Bacon also remarked that the University gave the Psychology Department permission to hire another full-time faculty member, one who could potentially fill Dr. Freyberg’s role in the developmental program. But, as Bacon mentioned, hiring someone for this exact position was not the psychology department’s top priority. Instead, the department was interested in hiring a teacher who, like Freyberg, is passionate about what he or she teaches and involves students in research programs outside of the classroom. Students interested in pursuing developmental psychology, while not be able to enroll in a specialized developmental program, can take the electives that the department is continuing to offer for those wishing to focus their major in this area.
In addition to Dr. Freyberg, professors’ Dr. Fried, who currently teaches classes such as developmental psychology, and Dr. Perlman, who currently teaches personality, are also planning to leave Stern this upcoming semester.
Jordana Maged, a junior at Stern College, expressed disappointment at changes in the Psychology Department, and is particularly upset that one of Stern’s most popular majors is going to be downsized. Maged, who was planning to major in developmental psychology before the program was suspended, said she will particularly miss Dr. Fried’s class and his unique ability to offer his years of life experience in psychology to his lectures. “Dr. Fried is an extremely knowledgeable professor who enlivens his lessons not only by incorporating his life experiences, but also by providing examples from religious texts to explain concepts in psychology. As someone who loves to study religious texts as well as secular subjects, and especially as someone who is now off of CORE, I really appreciate and will miss Dr. Fried’s unique ability to really to bring to life what Yeshiva University is all about—Torah U’Madda.”
Avigail Hirschfield, also a junior at Stern College, agreed that both of these teachers are going to be sincerely missed at Stern. “I don’t think the lack of professors, particularly in the developmental department, will necessarily scare students away from majoring in psychology, as students are aware that Stern is a small school with limited faculty,” she said. “I do think it is a shame, though, that Stern is going to have to say goodbye to two professors with so much wisdom to share. When they teach, it’s not just the facts they are giving over, but also their life experiences, which is something I think is extremely valuable in a psychology professor. Additionally, I think that psychology is a subject that can be looked at and taught from so many different angles, and without all the teachers that are planning to leave, the diversity of approaches in the major is going to be limited. So, while I don’t think the decrease of teachers in the department will prevent students from pursuing psychology from getting a good education, as there are still many qualified professors of psychology at Stern, I do think that the department will miss the unique perspectives that Dr. Freyberg, Dr. Fried, and Dr. Perlman brought to the subject matter.”
With the departure of Dr. Freyberg, one of the Psychology Department’s pillar figures, one of Stern’s most popular and well-regarded majors is beginning to shrink, something which will continue in the Fall 2017 semester with the departure of Dr. Fried and Dr. Perlman. Although students are disappointed that some of their favorite professors are leaving, they are grateful for having had the opportunity to learn from teachers who not only have expansive knowledge of their subject matter, but who also have the unique ability to inspire and influence the next generation of psychologists.