News

Yu promoted to Full Professor of Psychology

The rank of full professor indicates that the individual has achieved the highest stage of professional accomplishment recognized by this University . . . that the faculty member has made distinctive contributions to This Place and –in particular– its students . . . that she has sustained for some years a manifest excellence in teaching, in scholarship, and in service.  Evaluation occurs in five stages.

The initial evaluation of Karen Yu was by the Psychology Department Review Committee . . . all the tenured psychology faculty (Peyser, Barenbaum, Bateman, Bardi) plus Professor of Biology John Palisano.  Each member reviewed materials compiled by Dr. Yu;  three made pre-arranged classroom visits.  The Committee met on November 27 to determine its recommendation (enthusiastic endorsement of promotion), which was contained in a letter written by Department and Committee Chair Helen Bateman.  Each member also wrote an individual letter.

The second review level was by Dean of the College John Gatta, with advice from the College’s Promotion and Tenure Committee [five tenured members elected by the College Faculty].  The Dean made his recommendation to Provost John Swallow, who presented his evaluation to the Vice-Chancellor, who made a recommendation to the Regents.  Approval of the Board of Regents at its June 2013 meeting was the final step in the almost year-long evaluation process.

The criteria, in order of relative importance, are Teaching Effectiveness;  Scholarship;  and University Service.  The psychology committee observed that virtually all of Dr. Yu’s many accomplishments during her time at Sewanee encompass all three evaluation criteria, which was seen as a strength.

Karen Yu began her formative experiences as a Brain and Cognitive Sciences major at the Massachusetts Institution of Technology, where she credits several mentors with exemplifying a productive student-faculty research relationship.  This continued in her graduate studies at Vanderbilt University.  Dr. Yu states it was her experiences as a student that strongly inform the way she conceptualizes the various roles and many opportunities as a Sewanee faculty member.  The Review Committee found considerable evidence for her statement, noting a myriad of possibilities that she has offered to our students.

We observed that Dr. Yu’s laboratory course in cognitive psychology combines the details of that field with research methods/data analysis, with student-selected empirical studies a notable component.  Her research interests in the last several years have evolved toward decision-making . . . and led to a 400-level seminar on the topic offered spring 2012.  Support from Sewanee’s Fund for Innovation in Teaching and Learning (FITL) in the summer of 2012 permitted Dr. Yu to work with a Sewanee student and colleagues at Yale to design a study addressing decision making by parents and non-parents for children who are and are not their own.

Dr. Yu has been the local contact for the Summer Internships offered at Yale’s Child Study Center by Linda Mayes, M.D., C ’73.  Many hours of work went into expanding the summer program to the semester–plus–summer Sewanee-At-Yale Directed Research Program.  The existing Sewanee–Yale partnership [at its core a Yu–Mayes collaboration] was expanded by the new Spring 2013 seminar:  Child, Family, and Community Development in Rural Appalachia . . . with sessions led by four Sewanee faculty and sixteen Yale-affiliated faculty;  it will be offered again Spring 2014.

Dr. Yu encourages her students to present their work at national and regional conferences as well as our own Scholarship Sewanee [Matt Hagler's poster received Second Place in the Behavioral and Social Sciences], to publish their work in refereed journals:  Emily Simpson '11 . . . Matt Hagler '13, Catherine Lambert '12, and Natalie Rothwell '12 . . . Jay Hill '11.

The members of the psychology review committee look forward to having Professor Karen Yu as a colleague in the exciting years ahead.