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Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Haugen

By on March 27, 2020 in Spotlights with 0 Comments

Dr. Andrea Haugen, Program Director of Psychology

Say “Hello” to Andrea Haugen, PhD, an assistant professor and the program director for the online B.S. in Psychology, ACU Online’s first undergraduate degree program. Andrea began her most recent adventure with ACU Online last May, but her relationship with the university is a long-standing one. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in psychology from ACU’s residential campus with a focus on clinical work.

Andrea shares that the reason for her return to the ACU family “is something that I just couldn’t have been more excited about, getting to develop a program that paralleled the amazing undergraduate program that I, myself, benefited from. The ACU psychology program is what gave me my love of psychology, which has completely changed my life because it’s all about understanding people and thinking about why people are the way they are, why we do the things we do.”

Choosing ACU for her own psychology degrees

Andrea was drawn to the Abilene campus as an undergrad in search of “a place where I could start to find my own niche and my own people and start to build my own family. When I was contemplating schools, ACU just seemed like that was at its core—the school fostered connections between people. I really liked that idea. As an introvert, I needed some help with that.”

ACU’s identity as a faith-based institution “ended up tipping the scales for me,” Andrea states. “When I looked at ACU compared to the other colleges I was considering, the academics were great, the financial aid that I was going to be able to receive was excellent, the on-campus experience was much closer-knit than the others I was thinking about. But I knew ACU would grow me in ways that were and are very important to me—spiritually and in my relationship with God.”

Andrea explains that she ended up staying at ACU for her master’s due to the strong psychology program and the admirable professors. She especially liked the way faculty interacted with students, “and didn’t just teach the material, but developed an understanding of how to integrate the material into daily life. Especially as a psychology major, I really appreciated the reflection of faithful scientists that I saw in the faculty around me. That was something that definitely drew me back to ACU.”

Returning to ACU as a program director

As Andrea’s visiting professor position for the 2018-2019 school year was winding down at the University of Alaska Southeast, she realized that her favorite aspects of teaching were more “behind the scenes,” such as preparing lectures and grading. When the opportunity arose at ACU Online, she knew it would be a perfect fit for her personality. Andrea was not only eager to continue working in a field she is passionate about, but to return to the ACU family.

She was hired in May 2019 as “the program director and first, and currently only, full-time faculty for the ACU Online psychology department.” She finds herself now developing the online program with the help of colleagues who were once her professors. Of the process, Andrea says, “It’s great to work with people that I know and to be able to tap them for their expertise on subjects.” Her goal is to “take the work that they’re doing at ACU and bring it into alignment with what we’re doing at ACU Online so that it truly is infused with the spirit, the knowledge, and the personality of the main campus psychology program.”

While she was certain her online psychology students would reflect the same knowledge and skills as their on-campus counterparts at graduation, Andrea wondered, “Would they also reflect that same passion for Christ and passion for Christian service and leadership throughout the world? And have we done a good job of integrating their degree with that passion, with their place in the world?”

Andrea is also very focused on “taking all that is attractive about an ACU on-campus degree while ensuring that it’s built for our online learner.” She points out the importance of not tailoring assignments “to an 18-year-old sitting in Abilene, but rather a 39-year-old mother of three who might be working part-time or full-time, as well as being married. She’s got a lot of valuable life experiences happening right now that she can take the knowledge and skills that we’re providing, and infuse those right in. That’s what I’m excited to see in our degree.”

Any final thoughts from Dr. Andrea Haugen?

When thinking about the online BS in Psychology program, Andrea “sees this program as one of strong inclusion that reflects diverse voices and experiences and that represents a high standard of quality we’ve come to know and expect from ACU.”

Her goals include “always thinking about the student first, maintaining and exceeding our high standards, and letting students know that we’re open, we’re welcoming, we’re accessible. The courses are designed for students. As long as they put in the work, they’re going to succeed.”

To her prospective psychology students, Andrea proclaims, “Our instructors are on your side. We want to see you succeed; we want to see you finish that degree!”

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