Pepperdine’s Graduate School of Education and Psychology (GSEP) named Christine Blasey Ford a Distinguished Alumna at the GSEP Commencement Ceremony on May 18.
Ford, currently a professor at the PGSP-Stanford Psy.D. Consortium, a collaborative program between Palo Alto University and Stanford University, was previously a Malibu resident. She attended Pepperdine University in 1991 and received a master’s degree in clinical psychology. She later taught at the university between 1995 and 1998 in both undergraduate and graduate psychology programs.
Today, she teaches statistics, research methods and scientific writing, along with serving on numerous dissertation committees and as director of student research competence.
The Distinguished Alumnus Awards recognition program is significant in that each year the GSEP selects two distinguished alumni – one to represent the education division and one to represent the psychology division.
Alumni recipients are nominated by the Pepperdine GSEP community based on their contribution to their respective field and their community as well as their commitment to living out Pepperdine University’s mission of purpose, service, and leadership.
The selection process is coordinated by the GSEP Alumni Office in collaboration with Dean Rick Marrs and associate deans.
Robert deMayo, associate dean and professor of psychology, plays a role in this selection process.
“We try to identify alumni who have distinguished themselves in those three realms so we list people who have records of potential accomplishments, [who are] leaders in the field of psychology and education and [who are] serving their communities,” deMayo said.
First, a Call for Nominations email is sent to faculty and staff to nominate a GSEP Distinguished Alumnus. Once a list of nominees is compiled, the associate deans give their top two recommendations to the Dean for the final selection. Finally, the honorees are contacted directly by the associate deans.
Preference in the selection process is given to nominees who are not full-time members of the Pepperdine University faculty or staff.
“We try and find somebody for the Distinguished Alumnus that will inspire students to go on and do inspiring things in their life,” deMayo said. “It’s an opportunity for that year’s graduates to hear about someone who has used the education degree they received to go on and do terrific things.”
Since leaving Pepperdine, Ford continued to advance in the field of statistics.
She serves as the research psychologist and biostatistician with the department of psychiatry at Stanford University School of Medicine. Her activities in this role include designing studies and conducting statistical analyses in support of faculty research and grant proposals. She has recently been selected as a Stanford Fellow and will spend the upcoming year at the Center for Advanced Study of the Behavioral Sciences.
Ford’s career as a biostatistician has impacted developments throughout the pharmaceutical community. From 2005 to 2012 she served as a leader of statistical activities for Corcept Therapeutics, designing databases and writing statistical programs. She also contributed to more than 70 articles in peer-reviewed journals and is the coauthor of “How Many Subjects?: Statistical Power Analysis in Research.”
Ford’s work has not gone unnoticed.
In 2019, she was named Woman of the Year by the State of California District 24, and she was the recipient of the 2019 American Association of University Professors’ Georgina Smith Award. Other recognitions include the 2012 and 2018 Golden Apple Teaching Award in Statistics from the PGSP-Stanford Psy.D. Consortium and service as the Invited Statistics Mentor at the National Institutes of Health-American Psychiatric Association annual meetings in 2017 and 2018.
In her speech to the GSEP graduating class, Ford thanked the Pepperdine faculty that contributed to her academic journey.
“My time at Pepperdine was rich with mentors,” Ford said. “Clarence Hibbs who taught us to think systemically, Dennis Lowe who modeled how to teach, Tomas Martinez who showed us how to maintain both an individual and community perspective and Cary Mitchell who talked me through my transition from Pepperdine to Stanford.”
One of the mentioned individuals, GSEP Psychology Professor Dennis Lowe, has been teaching at Pepperdine for 36 years. Ford was one of his students.
“Christine was an outstanding student in Pepperdine’s master’s program in clinical psychology,” Lowe wrote in an email. “She was very dedicated to her studies and a quick learner. She evidenced both strong academic abilities and interpersonal skills.”
Lowe wrote that Ford demonstrated great promise and potential as someone who would contribute to the field of psychology after completing the program.
Ford certainly did make many contributions to both the fields of psychology and statistics, as evidenced by her listed accomplishments.
“I am glad that we were able to recognize her as a distinguished alumnus of Pepperdine because of the numerous contributions she has made to the psychology field, as well as who she is as a person,” Lowe wrote.
The GSEP prides itself providing innovative academic programs dedicated to building scholar-practitioners and shaping individuals who will be catalysts for inspiration and change.
Ford is truly an exemplary figure in this regard.
“It is the highest professional honor of my lifetime to receive this award,” Ford said.
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