One of Florida State University’s oldest academic departments today celebrated the grand opening of the university’s newest building.
Members of the psychology department — established on the FSU campus 106 years ago — are reveling in the opportunities that its new $56 million building will afford them in terms of teaching, researching and collaborating with colleagues. Constructed in two phases, the July completion of the 103,000-square-foot building marks the first time in decades that the faculty has been under one roof.
“This new building provides a spectacular home for our outstanding faculty and dedicated students and will help us in attracting the best and brightest new talent in the years to come,” said department Chair Janet Kistner. “We already have a vibrant and productive group of scholars, and being in the same building will lead to even more innovative and collaborative research. Our location in the science quadrangle also will make it easier for faculty and students to work with colleagues in other departments, particularly in our interdisciplinary neurosciences program.”
Growth of the psychology department, which includes 35 tenure-track faculty, 1,500 undergraduate majors and about 150 graduate students and postdoctoral researchers, had forced its clinic, labs and faculty offices into as many as seven off- and on-campus locations, including Eppes Hall and Kellogg Research Building.
Located on West Call Street, the Psychology Building completes the wave of new construction in the northwest quadrant of campus. The King Life Sciences Building and the Chemical Sciences Laboratory opened in recent months, and the College of Medicine was completed in 2006. The science and medicine building boom is part of FSU’s Pathways of Excellence initiative, which includes an aggressive effort to upgrade facilities for research and creative activities. The Pathways initiative also promotes the development of interdisciplinary faculty clusters, including one in neuroscience and one that is focused on the psychology and neurobiology of “dysregulated behavior.”
Besides neuroscience, the department has nationally ranked programs in cognitive, clinical, social and developmental psychology. A National Science Foundation survey has ranked the department fourth in the nation when it comes to funded research expenditures compared to other psychology programs, even those at state universities with multiple campuses. Its faculty includes world-renowned scholars investigating a diverse range of subjects — from the study of basic sensory processes, such as taste and pain, to complex human behaviors like self-control, social relationships and anxiety, depression and other mood disorders. The department even has in Eminent Scholar Anders Ericsson the world’s best-known expert in the study of expertise.
Designed with wireless technology, the new building features a 220-seat auditorium, 54 faculty and administrative offices, 49 research laboratories including histology and molecular genetics labs, seven meeting rooms, six technology-enhanced classrooms, two student computer rooms, a conference room and a seminar room. The building also has its own machine and electrical shops where engineers design and create the researchers’ tools and equipment.
A separate entrance provides access to the Psychology Clinic, a nationally recognized clinic that provides confidential mental health services to the community and training and research opportunities for students. The building also is home to the Florida Center for Reading Research, where psychology and education researchers study and promote the best ways to teach reading.
As part of the grand opening celebration, FSU officials dedicated the Stan and Paula Warmath Courtyard. Named for the department’s director of facilities and operations and his wife, the 9,000-square-foot courtyard features benches named for past department chairs and emeritus professors as well as a “graduate walk” of bricks engraved with the name of every doctoral graduate of the department. The Warmaths, both FSU psychology alumni, have donated more than $175,000 to establish endowed funds and enhance the beauty of the courtyard.
“I’m one of the few people who can say they have loved their job for 42 years,” said Stan Warmath, who came to FSU as a student in 1965 and earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in psychology while working in the department. “I was born here, in the intellectual sense, and raised in this department. I met my wife here, and we wanted to give back to the university.”
Architectural firms Flad & Associates and Elliott, Marshall and Innis designed the building in the collegiate Jacobean style. It was built by Culpepper Construction Company. FSU’s Master Craftsman Studio created castings of stone frogs, scrollwork and other exterior features of historic Eppes Hall to bring a sense of the past to the new building.
The psychology department traces its roots to 1902 when Florida State College, a forerunner of what is now FSU, established the first psychology laboratory in Florida. One of FSU’s first departments to establish a doctoral degree program, it has awarded 811 doctorates since 1953.