The psychology and family science department is “short-staffed” this semester after psychology professor Lawrence Murray left Oklahoma Christian University to teach at Langston University last summer.
Though Murray typically taught lower-level psychology courses, his absence presents a difficult situation for the rest of the psychology department, which is down two professors after Tina Winn left to become Dean of the College of Liberal Arts. According to senior family science major Caroline Hose, psychology professors are currently carrying a heavier workload than usual.
“[His absence] is affecting the Oklahoma Christian psychology department a lot because we are currently down to two professors who both work so hard,” Hose said. “I know, talking to [Associate Professor of Psychology and Family Studies Bobby] Kern, he is currently teaching 24 hours of classes. These professors influenced me a lot and I know they’re really stressed.”
Professor Ryan Newell found out about Murray’s decision to leave Oklahoma Christian in July. Still, after working with Murray as a friend and colleague for 13 years, Newell said he found Murray’s decision to leave surprising.
“I’m assuming he just found a good opportunity at Langston and felt like it was good for him and his family, and that’s why he made the move,” Newell said.
Despite Murray’s absence, the department is teaching the same courses as normal while some professors teach overload, Newell said. The department also hopes to hire another professor within the next year.
“We’re currently in the process of looking for more professors and expanding on the department,” Hose said. “We kind of look at this as an opportunity to get different worldviews we haven’t seen yet and have new people in the department who will help mold and shape, because the department has many great things coming.”
Winn found out about Murray’s decision to leave while in Vienna, Austria with the study abroad program this summer.
“As a colleague of Dr. Murray’s, I appreciate his friendship and the contributions he made to Oklahoma Christian over the years,” Winn said. “Though I will miss him and his talents, I am happy for him and the new opportunity he has at Langston. I am sure he will continue to be a blessing to his students and colleagues, as well as a dynamic leader in the church.”
To help with the lack of professors in the department, Winn will continue to teach a general psychology course this semester. After teaching in the Department of Psychology and Family Science for eight years, Winn recently transitioned into her new role this fall.
Though it has not been easy, Newell said the psychology department has tried to maintain a sense of normalcy in Murray’s absence.
“We are teaching the same scheduled courses we taught every fall,” Newell said. “We were able to fill them in. At this point, we are trying to just teach a few overloads and use some adjuncts, but hopefully this year we will be able to hire somebody.”