UBC Psychology at 50

For the faculty, students, and staff of the UBC Psychology Department, the 2008/2009 academic year held special significance. In addition to marking the 150th anniversary of the founding of British Columbia, that year marked 100 years since the signing of the University Act to establish and incorporate a university for the province of British Columbia. Moreover, 2008/2009 marked 50 years since Psychology became an autonomous academic unit, and 25 years since the Department’s current home, the Douglas T. Kenny Building, opened for business. Given this striking historical confluence, 2008/2009 was the perfect time to celebrate the Department’s history and current status–and this is what UBC Psychology at Fifty aimed to do.

Coauthored by Eric Eich, Andrew Witt, and Joanne Elliott, the 128-page book is divided into four major sections. Part I is a verbal and pictorial timeline of major milestones in the development of both the Department and the University. Part II, Talking Heads, contains individual essays by four past and present Psychology Heads. In Part III, twenty students, faculty, and staff share their Memoirs of life in the Psychology Department. Finally, in the Appendix section of the book, excerpts from several UBC Calendars are provided for archival purposes, along with lists of the Department’s doctoral-degree recipients and major award winners.

Scattered throughout the book are photographs of various people, places, documents, and objects. Many of the latter had been gathering dust for decades in the electrical/mechanical shops and central storage rooms in the back of the Kenny Building–areas that were recently renovated to create new labs and offices. The story behind some of these objects remains obscure (for instance, a 1963 “brain stimulator” or a circa 1930, Art-deco-inspired-device designed to measure hand-grip strength), while the origins of many other objects is known (including the intricate, colorful tests of children’s mental and motor performance that were used by Professor Jennie Wyman Pilcher, a developmental and social psychologist who joined the UBC faculty in 1926). But in all cases, the objects are fun to look at and it’s interesting to imagine how (or why, or when, or by whom) they were once used.

View UBC Psychology at 50 (PDF). If you would like us to mail you a bound copy of the book, please contact us by email (ee[at]psych.ubc.ca) or by regular postage (Anniversary Book, ATTN: Eric Eich, Department of Psychology, University of British Columbia, 2136 West Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4). Requests from alumni should include their degree and year of graduation, as well as their return address. For alumni, the Department will cover the cost of the book itself as well as postage. For non-alumni, the book is free of charge but we do ask that you cover the cost of mailing (about CA $3.25 within Canada, CA $7 to the US, and CA $14 to international destinations).