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June 2 , 2006
CONTACT: Ron Podell

EMU makes history with presentation of first Ph.D.

YPSILANTI - Andrew Gloster wanted to become a psychologist. Along the way to receiving his Ph.D., he also became part of Eastern Michigan University’s history.

Gloster is the first to earn his Ph.D. in EMU’s doctoral program in clinical psychology, which began in 2001.

Gloster recently defended his doctoral dissertation, “An Ecological Momentary Assessment of Retrospective Memory Accuracy in Patients With Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).” Looking at a number of various obsessive-compulsive disorder symptoms in 43 test subjects from the University of Michigan’s Anxiety Disorders Clinic, Gloster examined the subjects’ ability to recall their OCD symptoms.

 “I believe I felt a little bit of extra pressure. I know people in the administration were more interested because it was the first one,” said Gloster, a native of Westland and currently a psychology resident in the department of psychiatry and behavior sciences at the University of Texas’ Health Science Center at Houston. “The first is always a milestone. I ultimately felt more pressure to do a good job.”

EMU’s doctoral program is a full-time, five-year program that culminates in the Ph.D. after completion of 90 graduate credit hours. Students in the doctoral program must complete a master’s thesis and earn a master’s degree in route to completing the doctorate.  The doctorate program offers two tracks, either the clinical behavior or the general clinic program.  While the program emphasizes classroom training, EMU’s on-campus clinic helps students develop their clinical skills with clients from the community.

“Andrew Gloster’s thesis and presentation were exceptional, and set the standard for future Ph.D. candidates,” said Hartmut Hoft, interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

All accepted applicants receive a full four-year stipend, tuition waiver and fellowship to cover their expenses, which is typical of Ph.D. programs so that students can complete their degrees in a timely manner, Hoft said. When students complete their third year, they typically teach undergraduate courses and pay back some of their financial support through their teaching hours. Currently, there are approximately 45 students in the program. Typically, only 10 candidates per year are accepted and the program is very selective, Hoft said.

“Each of the committee members felt extremely good about the quality of Andrew’s work, the product he produced and the presentation,” said John Knapp, head of the department of psychology and a member of the dissertation committee. “Doing research on clinical populations is very difficult and his research makes an important contribution to the literature on obsessive-compulsive disorders. Those who are involved in the treatment of these individuals will certainly consider the implication of his work. His research meets the goal of the program in that it is methodologically sophisticated, yet has an applied focus that has clinical relevance.”

Gloster’s dissertation focused on three hypotheses. In the first, Gloster anticipated OCD patients would have trouble recalling the frequency and duration of symptoms they experienced and inputted into a hand-held computer. Based on his analysis, that was not the case, which he said made the study more interesting.

The second hypothesis explored looking at whether subjects, by virtue of using the handheld computers to record OCD symptoms, changed their symptoms.  It did not, which was consistent with previous research literature, Gloster said.

The third hypothesis centered on how accurately patients recalled their OCD symptoms when related to other symptoms such as sleep, mood, anxiety, loneliness and stress following a fight.

“They were not good at knowing how stressed they were when doing that. They were not good at knowing how their other symptoms varied at the time they were experiencing OCD symptoms,” Gloster said.

The purpose of the doctoral program, which was recently accredited by the American Psychological Association for the maximum five years, is to graduate fully licensable clinical psychologists with state-of-the-art knowledge relating to the psychological practice of assessment, therapy, research, and program development and evaluation. A primary program objective is the preparation of clinical psychologists who will be effective in supervising and managing therapists in multidisciplinary mental healthcare delivery systems in a diverse society.

Gloster has accepted an assistant professor position at the University of Dresden in Dresden, Germany this fall. He will teach clinical psychology.

“This is what we hoped for in our program,” Knapp said. “We are hopeful that we can continue to produce individuals who display clinical skill in helping individuals overcome problems in their lives, and whose contribution to the clinical literature will enable others to better understand the complexity of clinical cases and, thereby, facilitate the treatment of those whose lives are difficult for a variety of reasons.”

 “I was confident when I started (my dissertation) and confident when I left the room,” Gloster said. “But, you’re never sure until you go back into the room and are greeted with a handshake and are called ‘doctor’ for the first time.”

For further information about the program, please call 487-0047 or e-mail psygrad@emich.edu.

Eastern Michigan University is a public, comprehensive university that offers programs in the arts, sciences and professions. EMU prepares students with the intellectual skills and practical experiences to succeed in their career and lives, and to be better citizens.

Editor's Note: Looking for an expert source for a story? Check out EMU's Eastern Experts online at www.emich.edu/univcomm/easternexperts.

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