UE Receives Gift from Koch Foundation for Doctorate of Psychology Program

Posted: Monday, April 12, 2021

The University of Evansville announced on April 12 a $1.5 million gift from the Koch Foundation that will support the development of a new Doctorate of Psychology in Clinical Psychology (PsyD) program. This new opportunity will allow for providers in the region to diagnose and treat conditions associated with the brain, behaviors, and mental health.  

“We feel privileged to invest in the mental health of our region alongside the University of Evansville,” said Robert L. Koch II, chairman of Koch Enterprises. "There is a tremendous need for quality providers, and the establishment of this program is part of a larger vision to create a better quality of life for those in our community.” 

"The Koch Foundation has long been a leader in our community for inspiring change through philanthropy,” said Christopher M. Pietruszkiewicz, president of UE. “The University of Evansville is tremendously appreciative of the Koch family’s spirit of philanthropy, commitment to excellence in higher education, and support of our future through this transformational gift.”  

Mental health was identified as a top priority for Vanderburgh and Warrick Counties in the most recent Community Health Needs Assessments (CHNA). The study was conducted for both counties by Deaconess Health System and Ascension St. Vincent, along with ECHO Community Healthcare, the United Way of Southwest Indiana, the Vanderburgh County Health Department, and the Welborn Baptist Foundation. The demand is high for mental health services in the Evansville community, but there are simply not enough providers to adequately serve the area. 

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, studies estimated that one out of five people will be diagnosed with a mental health condition at some point in life. Recent data now suggests that a third of COVID-19 survivors are suffering with mental health issues, including anxiety and mood disorders, which directly impacts the individuals surrounding them. Through the PsyD program at UE, trained and licensed mental health providers can be placed in the community to provide care and treatment in a timely manner. 

“The PsyD program is a fantastic addition to UE’s academic offerings, and it will benefit our Counseling Services department on campus,” said Karen Stenstrom, LCSW (licensed clinical social worker), who serves as the University’s director of counseling and ADA coordinator for students. “This is a critical piece for increasing much-needed mental healthcare and improving the availability of services for our community.” 

“I am very excited about this doctoral program because of the impact it will have in our community,” said Elizabeth Hennon Peters, PhD, department chair and associate professor of psychology. “Society has known for over 50 years that individuals with the fewest mental health resources are the most likely to be impacted by stress and develop mental health challenges. Through the program, we will be available to offer valuable resources to those who need it most.” 

“The University of Evansville developing a Doctorate of Psychology degree is of particular interest,” said James F. Schroeder, PhD, HSPP, vice president of psychology and wellness at Easter Seals Rehabilitation. “There is a strong need for more highly trained clinical professionals in Evansville; more specifically, this region is undersaturated when it comes to practicing psychologists and thus waitlists, especially services for child providers, are very long. Beyond serving as a recruiting tool for psychologists in the area, the services provided by the graduate student interns will be invaluable to the community. For those who pursue the PsyD program at UE, they will be part of a rich, collaborative, dynamic learning environment that trains students at all levels to pursue a career of service and meaning.”  

The Koch Foundation was established in 1945 to fulfill a philanthropic mission to improve the quality of life within communities where Koch Enterprises conducts operations. 

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