Interview with a Dean

Dr. Mary Treuting on Being Dean of LSU Alexandria College of Social Sciences

Mary Boone Treuting, PhD, Professor of Psychology and a licensed psychologist, and who  served as Chair of the Psychology Department at Louisiana State University Alexandria (LSUA),  was promoted to the role of Dean of the College of Social Sciences last year. For this feature, we were able to interview Dr. Treuting and discover some of the challenges and joys of moving

from Professor and department chair to Dean at LSU Alexandria.

Dr. Treuting has served at LSUA since 1994 and was the founding director of the LSUA Center  for Teaching Excellence in 2010 and the Center for Academic Success in 2014, which housed  LSUA’s First Year Experience. 

She was the recipient of the Bolton Award for Teaching Excellence and has held three Endowed Professorships. She is the current holder of the F. Hugh Coughlin Endowed Professorship.

According to the University, the College of Social Sciences offers programs designed to “help  students shape their society and make a meaningful mark on the world.” Degree paths include Criminal Justice, Disaster Science, History, Political Science, or Psychology. Also offered are  courses in Anthropology, Geography, Social Work, and Sociology.

In the fall of 2018, the LSUA Psychology Department was named one of two academic  departments chosen by on-campus students as a 5-Star department, according to officials. The  Bachelor of Science in Psychology was also recognized as one of the nation’s best Online  Psychology Programs by Affordable Colleges Online. LSUA’s program was ranked 38th in the  U.S. and is the highest ranked online psychology program of any Louisiana school.

The Psychology Times asked Dr. Treuting what has it been like for her since she took over as  Dean?

Dr. Treuting: This first year has been quite an adventure as our university has moved into a new academic structure. Much of our time has involved updating policies and processes and  ensuring that students are getting what they need.

A new area for me has been reaching out to the community and showcasing our faculty and  students. I have become more involved with community groups and the usefulness of our degree programs for the workforce. We are continuously looking for ways to connect our  students to careers in their given fields of study and to let the community know about the  quality education that is the LSUA Experience!

I’ve had wonderful mentors from my time in graduate school at LSU through the various  positions held at LSUA. Our current administration is supportive and encouraging, and that  positivity can be felt across campus. We have just had our 8th straight semester of enrollment  growth. In a time when other campuses are seeing enrollment declines, we are poised for  continued progress. Being a part of this endeavor is exciting.

PT: What have been her major goals in this new position?

Dr. Treuting: I want to spread the word about LSUA and the quality education our students  receive here. Major goals include highlighting and increasing student research opportunities,  and promoting degree programs both within the state as well as nationwide, with our online component. I also have made it a priority to reach out to our neighboring parish of Avoyelles,  our second largest student contributor, to raise the LSUA profile in those communities. Our  faculty strive to infuse the curriculum with creative and innovative approaches. LSUA’s Online Psychology program was recently named #2 in the nation for affordability. We believe that students may come to us for our lower costs, and lessor debt, but stay with us because of our  quality programs.

PT: What are the three main challenges she has been faced with?

Dr. Treuting: Of course, Covid has been a challenge for Higher Education in general. LSUA was able to meet those challenges because our faculty worked diligently to ensure students continued to move forward with their degrees and progressed toward graduation.

A second challenge involves staffing and ensuring students are getting the highest quality  education possible. Our traditional class sizes are small, the online components supported by  LSU-Online have increased our reach across the state and nationally. LSUA has a dedicated  group of faculty and staff, and I have enjoyed working with multiple disciplines to ensure we are meeting the needs of our students.

I think a third challenge is one of time. Being out in the community, interacting with a multitude  of stakeholders takes time. I have continued to teach in a limited capacity, but wish I could  clone myself to increase my productivity. There are so many good programs in our community  and so many possible collaborations. I love the brainstorming that goes along with creating  unique student opportunities. We have put together a Dean’s Advisory Council made up of a  wonderful group of students who have actively participated in ideas for strengthening our  programs. Combining ideas across multiple disciplines is intriguing, and a bit challenging, but  also immensely rewarding. Fundraising is a new area for me, but one that I am embracing in  order to meet our goals.

PT: What has she enjoyed the most?

Dr. Treuting: I love the freedom to think broadly and futuristically. The reception and support by our community is palpable. LSUA is poised to not only be innovative in our approach but also our administration is very supportive of a growth mindset and continuous improvement- two of the themes the campus has adopted.

PT: Is she still involved in the psychology department? If so, in what ways? What does she miss  most?

Dr. Treuting: Oh YES!! Our psychology department is an important part of the College of Social  Sciences. Of note, it is one of the largest and fastest growing programs on the entire campus. I  am working with other psychology faculty as we continue to grow and develop that program. I  have maintained my faculty status as a full professor of Psychology. Additionally, within the  college, Psychology has been joined by other degree programs, Criminal Justice, History,  Political Science and Disaster Science. Our college theme is “Shaping Societies” since our common thread is helping students gain the knowledge and skills that will shape their world  within the social context. I miss teaching the most, but am still able to teach at least one  psychology class each semester. I do miss more involvement with psychology students.

PT: Did her background in psychology help prepare her for this new role?

Dr. Treuting: I use “psychology“ every day! I have no doubt that my background in psychology  has prepared me well for this position. I see the Dean’s role as one that assists faculty and  students in the pursuit of their goals. My job is to support them and try to figure out ways to  fulfill their ideas and allow growth to happen. We have so many creative minds; our faculty are  developing new courses and setting up useful internships, which in turn help our students find  their own path. I have been asked to speak to Business Leadership groups, teenagers, prison  employees and women’s groups on topics ranging from emotional intelligence to emotional  health and leadership. Psychology plays a significant role in my world. Active listening, problem  solving, conflict management, and empathy are all frequent skills I depend on to get things done. This is true for programs in Criminal Justice, History, Political and Disaster Science as well  as Psychology.

One of the things I often tell students who are considering Psychology as a major is that if you  plan on working with people, a Psychology degree can be extremely beneficial. We don’t know  what the future holds in terms of specific jobs, but we do know that the science of behavior is  useful in many social settings. I had no ambitions of being a dean, but had an evolution from  psychologist to professor to department chair and now to Dean. It has been a fun career and I  have enjoyed each of these roles immensely.

Dr. Treuting has broad experience and background. She has taught extensively including Educational Psychology, Psychology of Adjustment, Child Psychology, Adolescent Psychology,  Developmental Psychology, Abnormal Psychology, Personality, History of Modern Psychology, and Senior Seminar in Psychology.

Her publications include, “Acceptance of response cost methods: Teachers’ and psychologists’  reactions,” in the Canadian Journal of School Psychology, and “The behavior untervention rating  scale: Development and validation of a pretreatment acceptability and effectiveness measure,”  in the Journal of School Psychology.

She has served as a coordinator for a Title III Federal Development Grant-$1.8 million.

She has made many presentations and conducted training on topics that include, “Emotional  Intelligence: An Essential Facet of Leadership,” Invited Presentation, CENLA Leadership; “Roles  for Faculty in Student Success and Retention,” Presentation at Fall Teaching Institute, Louisiana  State University at Alexandria, and LSUA 1001 Faculty- Peer Mentors Workshop, and “Creating a  Culture of Faculty Engagement,” Workshop Presentation at National Teaching Professor  Conference, Boston.

She delivered “Resilient Woman Working: Women Leading from the Middle,” Louisiana Association of Women in Higher Education, Annual Conference, Conference of Louisiana  Colleges and Universities, and “Standardized Tests: Linking Assessment to the Classroom,”  Faculty Workshop for St. Frances Cabrini School, Alexandria.

She also has extensive community service. Examples include serving on the Foodbank Board  Capital Campaign – Current Board of Directors Central Louisiana Food Bank; she served as the  Executive Committee-Secretary, Diocese of Alexandria, Vocations Advisory Board; and for CENLA A.C.T.S. (Adoration, Community, Theology, Service) Catholic Outreach. She has served as  Retreat Director, Holy Savior Menard Advisory Council, Bishop Appointment and on the  Alexandria Museum of Art – Board Member (secretary), as well as with the Habitat for Humanity  and with Hospice.

What else is happening in her life?

“My family is very important to me,” said Dr. Treuting. “My three sons are grown, are educated,  married and settled in to their own lives. I am the proud ‘Omie’ of 4 adorable grandchildren and my husband and I now have the freedom to travel and experience life on a new level. I am full of gratitude!”






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