Ed Psych’s multicultural efforts win major APA award

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Educational Psychology program is one of three in the U.S. to win a major new award from the American Psychological Association (APA).

The Bersoff Presidential Award to Multicultural Programs, which will be presented at APA’s 2013 annual convention Aug. 3, is designed to honor graduate programs/departments for successfully recruiting and graduating students who are U.S.-born ethnic minorities, as well as residents born outside the U.S. in regions such as the Middle East, Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America.

“We’re very excited about the award and so proud of our students,” says Nadya Fouad, UWM Distinguished Professor and chair of the Department of Educational Psychology. The department is part of the School of Education.

“A core part of our mission has always been building multicultural competence and recruiting a diverse and international student body, both in counseling and school psychology,” Fouad adds. “Being one of the first three programs honored by this new award is really an important national recognition for the Department of Educational Psychology.”

“We know there’s a tremendous need for a more diverse mental health workforce,” she adds, “because clients of color are less likely to seek and stay in treatment. Having counselors who are multiculturally competent is really key to changing that.”

Students were critical in supporting UWM’s application for the award, says Fouad. The department needed one letter of recommendation from a student, and students responded – on a tight deadline over spring break – with several student letters from each of the department’s four program areas – counseling psychology, school psychology, learning and development, and educational statistics and measurement. The award includes $2,500, which will be used to fund student travel, according to Fouad.

David Bersoff, president of the APA, established the award as way for programs to learn from each other about how to attract and retain students from other countries and ethnic minority groups. The initiative’s goal is to “ensure that psychology’s workforce adequately reflects and is appropriately trained to work with the increasingly international population of the United States,” according to the APA.

In notifying Fouad and the department of the award, Bersoff wrote:

“I want to specifically congratulate you for the evidence presented by you and your students that your department engages in a variety of strategies to promote multicultural competence for your students.”

He praised the department for its diversity among both faculty and students, commitment to infusing multicultural competence into coursework, providing a supportive climate through such groups as the Multicultural Advisory Board, and offering internships and practicums with diverse populations. He also noted that both the School of Education and UWM promoted values of social justice and advocacy.

“Your efforts will positively impact the profession of psychology for many years to come,” Bersoff said.