Ashford University Psychology Club Spotlight – An Interview with Dr. Stephen Brewer

Discussion at table

Dr. Stephen Brewer is an Assistant Professor in the College of Health, Human Services, and Sciences at Ashford University. In addition to his work in the virtual classroom, Dr. Brewer is the founding faculty advisor for Ashford’s Online Psychology Club. Founded in 2012, officially recognized in 2013, and comprised of over 6,000 members – including students, staff, faculty, and alumni – the club is the university’s oldest and largest. Dr. Brewer wears many hats in his role, ranging from managing resources, acting as a liaison between student officers and university administrators, and working in a mentorship capacity with student leaders to develop and host events. The club is very active and recently added three faculty organizers to support its growth. We recently asked Dr. Brewer to share some thoughts on the Psychology Club and how prospective members might hope to benefit from joining. Here are a few highlights from the interview:

Ashford: What do you attribute to the Psychology Club’s growth and success?

Dr. Brewer: We're practically the size of a college at this point, and I'm filled with joy to have overseen this wildly successful operation on a daily basis since its inception. The club wouldn't have been possible without the support of Ben Gothia (club coordinator in Student Affairs), Dr. Eric Klein (former Psychology degree program chair), Dr. Tami Beaty (former associate dean of Behavioral Sciences), and Dr. Mihaela Tanasescu (former executive dean of the College of Health, Human Services & Science and a vocal advocate for the establishment of learning communities at Ashford). Dr. Klein recognized my experience as a student officer in several college organizations and offered me the role of faculty advisor while we developed our early vision for the club. My experience leading student organizations and my familiarity with Ashford's student culture significantly helped with the enormous task of forming and maintaining the club, negotiating difficulties along the way, and engaging new students to become active. Each club is unique, which requires a faculty advisor to have a certain skill set, knowledge base, and flexibility to adapt to changes in student culture across programs and colleges. The faculty advisor can really make or break a club in our university's culture, especially in the critical formative months.

Ashford: How active is the club? 

Dr. Brewer: The club is active on a nearly daily basis. We have ongoing discussions on our official LinkedIn page in addition to a monthly presentation series, special "meet the faculty" events, and our annual colloquium.

Ashford: What are the benefits of joining the Psychology Club? Are there leadership and/or committee opportunities available? 

Dr. Brewer: Members have access to our official LinkedIn page and have unique opportunities to engage with faculty and colleagues outside the classroom environment. The research team I lead has been looking at all conceivable student outcomes associated with the AU Online Psychology Club, and my ongoing work has been funded by the University Fellows Project for over five years. We've shown conclusively that membership in the club is associated with significantly higher student GPA, retention, engagement, connectedness, satisfaction, and several other positive indicators. Results were shared at several national and international conferences.

Student leadership opportunities are available every year, and members are invited to nominate or self-nominate for cabinet positions including president, vice president, online moderator, and member-at-large.

Ashford: What are 1 to 2 notable Psychology Club highlights or success stories from recent years?

Dr. Brewer: I have to highlight and sincerely thank our student officers, all of whom are volunteers. I will highlight two who contributed to the club's legacy significantly. Wayne Wright was a student officer and eventually president for several years. He went above and beyond during the club's growth spurt to maintain our ongoing discussions and engage new members. He continues to be a present and active voice in the club as our alumni representative. Eric Ljung is our current president and continues to grow the club with new ideas and efforts to engage new members. He has been an active part in evaluating new speakers and new platforms for our club to call home, in addition to LinkedIn.

Ashford: How would students go about getting involved, and are there any requirements for membership?

Dr. Brewer: Students must be enrolled at the time of their membership request. The easiest way to join is for students to navigate to the “Join the Psychology Club” page in the Week 1 module of any PSY or ABS course. The current link to join will be posted there. Alumni, faculty, and staff are welcome to join as well.

Ready to Join?

If you would like more information on the Psychology Club, or any of Ashford University’s online student organizations, please review these convenient online resources. You can even propose your own idea for a club and help create community and build connections across campus, just like Dr. Brewer.

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Written by Ashford University staff

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