David Rollock named 150th Anniversary Professor by Office of the Provost

David Rollock sits at his desk.

A professor of psychological sciences and department head of clinical psychology, has been named a 150th Anniversary Professor by the Office of the Provost as Purdue’s 150th anniversary nears.

The Office of the Provost has given the prestigious title to 10 faculty members, now including professor David Rollock, all of whom will receive an annual discretionary allocation of $25,000.

“I don’t feel a day over 135,” Rollock joked, on what it was like to be a 150th Anniversary Professor.

Rollock, who has a Ph.D. from Yale University, has been teaching at Purdue since 1988.

“In a great university like Purdue, students learn from people who create the knowledge they learn,” he said.

Rollock's research concerns ethics, cultural adjustments and wellbeing. He has published various pieces of empirical research in scientific journals, which he later brings up in classroom teaching to further reinforce his findings. He teaches abnormal psychology to undergraduate students, integrating his research on psychological disorders into his teaching.

Currently, he is researching African-American and East andSouth Asian people in the U.S. and their mental health.

He is most proud of a research piece he did with a graduate student at Purdue on how Asian-American students responded to personality tests.

Another research piece focuses on sources of distress, for which Rollock looked at responses to the police, how people mentally use religion to help maintain balance and ways of coping with distress.

His teaching motto is that “research should affect practice and practice should affect research.”

In this vein, he tells his students stories and experiences of his own, and gives his students a platform to voice their own experiences.Students shared their journey with mental and eating disorders and autism in class.

“It creates a unique learning experience,” Rollock said.

He emphasizes culture while teaching, as he says that all behaviors take place in a cultural context. With the importance of culture in mind, Rollock has made changes to his curriculum in the past. He added more elements that affect research, such as biological theories and cultural matters, as he believed the previous curriculum was missing the cultural aspect.

Rollock also created a more objective way to complete teacher evaluations. Basing the evaluations on research, he eliminated the subjective questions completely and focused on behavior. The new method encouraged students to rate behavior that can be trained, rather than give simplistic and subjective answers that usually vary, and reflect on teaching behavior. The evaluation was administered in class.

Rollock is confident with the empirically based practice. However, he believes that the one thing the new method is missing is a more systematic approach, as it does not involve faculty and their content evaluation.

“It is an exceptional honor to be a 150th Anniversary Professor but as for my biggest achievement at Purdue, I would go back to what a university is about: teaching," Rollock said. "I am most proud of my students who are successful psychologists and researchers, and students who are pushing the frontiers of knowledge. My achievement is in the achievement of my students.” 

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