Psychology professor wins graduate teaching award

Published 10:25 am Monday, June 12, 2017

By Michael Newsom

University of Mississippi

University of Mississippi psychology professor Kelly G. Wilson has won the university’s 2017 Excellence in Graduate Teaching and Mentoring Award in recognition of his outstanding efforts to help students in and out of the classroom.

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Wilson, who has been a member of the UM faculty for 17 years, has not only mentored many students, but his passion for being a role model is also an inspiration to them, his colleagues said. Wilson said he’s fortunate to work on a college campus and be a positive force in the lives of others.

He credits his own mentors and teachers for awakening a passion in him for helping others.

“To this day, I feel privileged to breathe the air on a college campus,” Wilson said. “I feel privileged to be a member of the academy and to have a chance to transmit what I found.

“I have loved my students and have loved watching them grow. To be recognized for this by my peers, and especially by my students, means the world to me.”

Besides helping students with academic matters, Wilson and his wife, Dianna, organize an “Orphan Thanksgiving” each year at their home for students and faculty who can’t be with their families. This is a testament to his commitment to making sure those students and faculty who work with him have a good experience, said Michael Allen, a fellow professor of psychology.

“He cares deeply about the training experiences that students get while working with him,” Allen said. “He has been a true asset to the Department of Psychology for many years.”

Wilson is a past president of the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science, representative-at-large of the Society for a Science of Clinical Psychology, and is one of the co-developers of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. He received his bachelor’s degree summa cum laude from Gonzaga University and his doctorate at the University of Nevada at Reno.

After running a National Institutes on Drug Abuse clinical trial in Reno, he joined the Ole Miss faculty in 2000. He later established the Mississippi Center for Contextual Psychology on campus.

“Kelly’s winning the award demonstrates what a terrific asset he is to undergraduate and graduate education,” said Alan M. Gross, another fellow professor of psychology. “He is truly dedicated to students.

“His lab is an academic community where students are nurtured and supported and encouraged to develop personally and professionally.”

Rebekah E. Smith, chair and professor of psychology, credits Wilson for graduating 17 doctoral students. Those students have all gone on to have successful careers in academia, clinical settings and private practice, she said.

“Dr. Wilson is dedicated to the success of his students and his support allows them to achieve what they did not think was possible,” Smith said.