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2012 Convention News

Philadelphia, February 21–24

Professional Development for Graduate Students and School Psychologists Interested in Faculty Careers

By Amanda L. Sullivan & Bryn Harris

A career as faculty is a rewarding and dynamic endeavor that provides ongoing opportunities to contribute to training of future professionals and research in school psychology. Unfortunately, just as there has been a persistent shortage of school psychologists entering school-based practice (Charvat, 2008), there is a concomitant nationwide dearth of prospective school psychology faculty for graduate training programs (Clopton & Haselhuhn, 2009). This shortage of trainers has critical implications for the preparation of future practitioners and, by extension, the delivery of comprehensive school-based psychoeducational services. Unfilled faculty positions are common, and there is concern that ensuring the professional workforce will depend more on recruitment of future faculty than on that of future practitioners (Canter, 2006). As such, providing professional development for potential faculty—both students and current practitioners—is an important facet of recruiting new trainers. School psychology students and practitioners rarely engage in formal training or mentoring that explicitly addresses the roles of faculty (e.g., teaching, service, mentoring the research of others) or strategies for success in academia. Further, most new faculty members have limited training and professional development in these areas.

In recognition of the dearth of professional development opportunities specific to future school psychology faculty, a series of sessions at this year's NASP annual convention will provide the opportunity for graduate students and school psychologists to learn more about academic careers in school psychology. These sessions are intended to provide multiple perspectives on the various aspects of preparing for, entering, and thriving in careers as school psychology faculty. Sessions will be conducted in panel format with ample time for questions and discussion with participants. Resources for ongoing professional learning in this domain will be identified. The presenters in this series represent scholars at various stages of their academic careers, from a range of institutions and school psychology programs. Each will provide insight into the topics described below.

SY013 Straight Talk About Faculty Careers: Perspectives and Advice From Trainers
Bryn Harris, University of Colorado Denver; Jocelyn Newton, University of Wisconsin – La Cross; Julia Ogg, University of South Florida; David Shriberg, Loyola University Chicago; Amanda Sullivan, University of Minnesota

This symposium will provide perspectives and insights from five early and midcareer faculty on the different aspects of faculty careers—i.e., research, teaching, and service—with an emphasis on how graduate students can best prepare to be competitive candidates when entering the field.

SS05 Graduate Education Workgroup Special Session—Hitting the Ground Running: Maximizing Your First Years in Academia
Amanda Sullivan, University of Minnesota; Bryn Harris, University of Colorado Denver; Judith Kaufman, Fairleigh Dickinson University; Sarah Valley-Gray, Nova Southeastern University

This session will provide an overview of the challenges faced by individuals beginning their academic careers in different types of school psychology programs and universities. The speakers will provide insights about successfully navigating one's first years in the field in order to maximize productivity, and will provide insight for those considering entering faculty positions immediately after graduate school or after a career as a practicing school psychologist.

PA092 Landing an Academic Job: A Primer for Aspiring Trainers
Sherrie Proctor, Queens College CUNY; Nathan Clemens, Texas A&M; Amanda Sullivan, University of Minnesota

The hiring process for faculty positions is generally very different from the typical job. This session will describe the job application process from the perspective of both the applicant and search committee (i.e., those who conduct the application/interview process). Specific topics addressed will include understanding the hiring process, locating career opportunities, preparing application materials, successfully engaging in campus interviews

SY017 Effective Teaching and Mentoring for Graduate Education
Amy Scott, University of the Pacific; Rachel Brown-Chidsey, University of Southern Maine; Bryn Harris, University of Colorado Denver; Amity Noltemeyer, Miami University; Marlene Sotelo-Dynega, St. Johns University; Jamie Zibulsky, Fairleigh Dickson; Amanda Sullivan, University of Minnesota

This symposium provides the perspectives and insights from seven early and midcareer faculty members on effective teaching and mentoring strategies for graduate education in school psychology. Participants will learn new teaching and mentoring techniques to influence learning, critical thinking, and selfreflection among their students.

PA195 Developing a Program of Research: Tools for Success in Academe
Amanda Sullivan, University of Minnesota; Theodore Christ, University of Minnesota; Allison Dempsey, University of Houston; David Wodrich, University of Arizona

The purpose of this session is to provide guidance on the development of research agendas for those interested or engaged in faculty and research careers in school psychology and related fields. Specifically, this presentation will address how to delineate, communicate, and advance one's research agenda.

PA197 Dollars and Sense: Understanding Funding Opportunities for Research and Training
Amanda Sullivan, University of Minnesota; Theodore Christ, University of Minnesota; Ed Shapiro, Lehigh University; Sara Bolt, Michigan State University

As educational institutions face mounting budgetary constraints, researchers and trainers are increasingly encouraged to seek external funding to support their work. In this session, participants will learn about the different types of funding available to students and faculty, gain insight from successful applicants, and hear perspectives from scholars who have served as grant reviewers.

SY061 Developing and Sustaining Healthy Work–Life Balance in Academia
Miranda Kucera, Arizona State University; Rachel Brown-Chidsey, University of Southern Maine; Bryn Harris, University of Colorado Denver; David Shriberg, Loyola University–Chicago; Marlene Sotelo-Dynega, St. Johns University; Jamie Zibulsky, Fairleigh Dickson; Amanda Sullivan, University of Minnesota

Many graduate students and trainers find it challenging to achieve work–life balance due to the multiple demands on their time, inconsistent schedules, and nontraditional duties. This symposium will consist of a panel of junior faculty, midcareer faculty, and a graduate student who will share their unique experiences and research-based strategies for improving work–life balance.

As these descriptions indicate, these sessions are intended for both graduate students and practicing school psychologists interested in faculty careers. Together, these sessions provide recommendations and resources relevant to a variety of individuals—from those who may simply be interested in learning more about faculty careers as a potential vocation to those in the initial years of such positions. Anyone interested in exploring a faculty career is encouraged to attend the convention and seek out these sessions.


Canter, A. (2006). School psychology. (COPSSE Document Number IB-4E). Gainesville, FL: University of Florida, Center on Personnel Studies in Special Education.

Charvat, J. L. (2008). Estimates of the school psychology workforce. Bethesda, MA: National Association of School Psychologists. Retrieved from http://www.nasponline.org/advocacy/SP_Workforce_Estimates_9.08.pdf

Clopton, K. L., & Haselhuhn, C. W. (2009). School psychology trainer shortage in the USA: Current status and projections for the future. School Psychology International, 30, 24–42.

Amanda L. Sullivan is an assistant professor of school psychology at the University of Minnesota. Bryn Harris is an assistant professor of school psychology at the University of Colorado Denver.