Coming Together to Support Students

By Kate Thornton ( |   June 28, 2013

UMUC Academic Director Thomas Bailey

When Thomas Bailey, now acting associate dean for The Undergraduate School, accepted a position as academic director of psychology at UMUC in 2006, it was a homecoming of sorts: Bailey graduated from UMUC in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in business management before going on to earn an MS in human resource management systems from Chapman University, an MA in human development from the Fielding Graduate University, and a PhD in human and organizational systems from the Fielding Graduate University. 

After several months as academic director, Bailey realized the university did not have financial support efforts dedicated specifically to psychology students, and he wanted to do something about it. He spoke with several colleagues—Joann Altiero, Evelyn Bata, and John Gustafson—and together they created the Psychology Scholars Endowment Fund. 

Their efforts have had a direct effect on the life of Stephanie Otis. The Psychology Scholars Endowed Scholarship has helped her fund her education. 

"It is an honor to be a scholarship recipient," Otis said. "It encourages me that I am doing something right in my academic career, and it pushes me to excel."

Established in 2007, the fund provides financial support to undergraduate students majoring in psychology who have completed nine credits or more, maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher, are not in their final semester, and demonstrate financial need. Three scholarships have been awarded over the life of the fund—one each year since 2010. 

Otis has always wanted to understand why people think and act in the ways that they do; she wants to pursue a career in psychology to help others. Otis says her studies at UMUC have taught her a great deal about relationships, conflict, the brain, and more. She said she has also learned a lot about herself, which has helped her both in her personal and professional relationships. 

Otis said receiving the scholarship showed her that her academic achievements have been recognized. 

"This scholarship has made it possible for me to achieve my academic goals within my financial means," she said. 

Since establishing the fund, Bailey has concentrated on increasing its reach to help as many psychology students as possible. 

"I am committed to helping, however I can, to reduce some stress while the students focus on their studies. Our future is in the success of our students; I see reducing financial concerns as a means to clear barriers that are not academically related," he said.

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