Highlights from BYU colleges: School psychologist alumni receive awards, BYU recognized for top Ph.D. preparation

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Brigham Young University

Brigham Young University was recognized by the National Science Foundation for preparing more future Ph.D. students in foreign languages and business management than any other American college. (Aaron Hawkins)

Brigham Young University was recognized by the National Science Foundation for preparing more future Ph.D. students in foreign languages and business management than any other American college. Data shared by the foundation also shows that BYU graduates have greater success earning doctorate degrees in chemical engineering, mechanical engineering, psychology, education research and other fields of study. Over the past 10 years, 241 BYU alumni completed a Ph.D. in business management and administration. This was 250% more than BYU’s closest competitor, the University of Pennsylvania, whose alumni produced 95 Ph.D.s in the same time period. As for foreign languages, BYU is unusually bilingual. Around 65% of BYU students speak more than one language. 

“The professors I had in the junior core and my work as a research assistant gave me the confidence and encouragement I needed to pursue a Ph.D.,” BYU accounting alumna Daphne Armstrong said. Armstrong began working toward her Ph.D. at the University of North Carolina last year. “There was no better place than BYU to help me get where I am today.”


J. Reuben Clark Law School

Leaders at the J. Reuben Clark Law School are preparing to celebrate the program’s 50th anniversary. (Clark Law School)

Leaders at the J. Reuben Clark Law School are preparing to celebrate the program’s 50th anniversary. Highlights of the golden jubilee celebration in Fall 2023 will include recollections of impressions when the plan to build a law school was first announced, the international scope of the program and the innovation involved with the unique law school experience.

“Most law schools are committed to teaching legal analysis and the power of reason. We teach our students to combine intellect with faith in making decisions and analyzing situations,” law school Dean D. Gordon Smith said. “We are motivated by the knowledge that every person we encounter is a child of God. Our role is to serve him or her in the best way we can.”

The law school was announced in 1971 at a BYU Devotional and the first classes began in 1973. 


David O. McKay School of Education

Melissa Heath was among the four people with ties to the David O. McKay School of Education honored by the Utah Association of School Psychologists this year. (Kenny Crooksto/BYU Photo)

Four of the five people honored by the Utah Association of School Psychologists this year have ties to the David O. McKay School of Education. Three alumni and one faculty member were recognized as people “who have made an outstanding contribution to the goals and standards of our profession,” the association said. The alumni recognized included Tami Gear (‘04), Sterling Stauffer (‘11) and Sydnee Dickson (‘92). Faculty member Melissa Heath, who teaches special education and counseling psychology at BYU, was also recognized for her work. 

Gear won the Lifetime Achievement Award for her work as a passionate advocate of the importance of school psychologists. Gear works for the Utah State Board of Education as a coordinator of student support. She also teaches at Salt Lake Community College. Stauffer received the title of School Psychologist of the Year for his 11 years of devotion to the job. He works for several schools in Washington County, Utah. Stauffer is described by those who work with him as “calm, professional, helpful, knowledgeable and overall amazing” and “a testament to the power of our profession.”

Dickson won the Award for Outstanding Service to Children and Families. She has worked as a superintendent for the Utah State Board of Education for 10 years. Dickson was lauded for her commitment to students’ mental health and well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Heath received the Distinguished Service Award for her many contributions to the Utah Association of School Psychologists. “She has devoted her life to supporting children, families, and educators,” Heath’s award said. “Melissa’s impact on the field of school psychology and the Utah Association of School Psychologists will be felt for a long time to come.”


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