Michel Hersen

Michel Hersen, Dean of Professional Psychology. (Photo by Heidi Hoffman)

The Art of Psychology

While he may be retiring Sept. 1 after 14 years as dean of the School of Professional Psychology at Pacific University, Michel Hersen plans to keep working, but not as a psychologist. A noted photographer, he will continue doing fulltime nature and wildlife photography.

“By nature, I’m a conservationist,” he said, noting that he has also been elected to the board of directors for the Richland Natural Wildlife Refuge in Washington.

Inspired by the luminosity and coloration of the Hudson School landscape painters, his award-winning photography has been featured in many publications and has been exhibited widely. A look at his work can be seen at http://photographybymichel.squarespace.com.

When Hersen came to Pacific to head the professional psychology school in July 1997, he said, “I wanted to be dean of the program and have the ability to bring the program to national recognition.”

By all measurements, his goal has been achieved. Since he was appointed dean, SPP has significantly increased its student enrollment, more than tripled the core faculty, and added a master’s degree in counseling.

In addition, a psychological service center in Hillsboro now offers mental health outpatient care to both English and Spanish-speaking patients, and a track system for the doctoral program has been established in which students can pursue an emphasis in several different areas. The school’s internship program has received accreditation by the American Psychological Association and the school’s faculty and students have also been involved in marked increases in peer-reviewed publications. An increase in grant funding has also been established on Hersen’s watch.

Hersen himself has written, co-authored or co-edited more than 150 books and published more than 220 scientific journal articles as well as being co-editor of several psychological journals. He has distinguished himself in numerous professional organizations, including receiving the distinguished Career Achievement Award from the American Board of Medical Psychotherapists and Psychodiagnosticians.

Hersen earned his academic degrees and worked for universities on the East Coast before accepting the dean’s position at Pacific. When asked if he had to make adjustments to small-town life on the West Coast, he responded with a laugh. “I think the people in the program had to adjust to me,” adding, “Transition is part of my life… this is the best place I have lived.”

Even though he’ll still be working in another occupation once he leaves his post in the fall, Hersen said, “I will miss the people, particularly my colleagues.”

-- Wanda Laukkanen