Dr. Jenny Mason never expected to become a university professor, let alone a Program Director. But shortly after she finished her dissertation in June 2014, she was contacted by Dr. Eric Cummings, the Dean of the School of Humanities, Education and the Arts at Cumberland University, about an available Psychology Program Director position.
Previously, Dr. Mason taught statistics and research at other universities as an adjunct professor. Additionally, Dr. Mason served as a Research and Corporate Consultant across the state and a Clinical Therapist working in both individual and group settings.
She received her B.S. in Psychology from the University of Tennessee – Knoxville, her M.Ed. in Community/Agency Counseling from Auburn University and her Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from University of Southern Mississippi. These degrees gave Dr. Mason optimal experience in research, counseling, grant writing and teaching – an ideal background for a Program Director. So, Dr. Mason decided to try her hand in the world of academic administration.
“I wasn’t even looking to go into academic administration. That had never even gone on my radar, but then I met everybody at Cumberland, and I just loved it,” Dr. Mason said. “I realized that the degrees that I have really did set me up well for this job.”
Since becoming Psychology Program Director in 2014, 100 percent of Cumberland psychology students who have applied to graduate programs have been accepted, a rate much higher than the national average, which sees less than a 25 percent acceptance rate.
“My goal, and I tell my students this, is that I want my students to be the best in the nation,” Mason said. “I am not going to allow students to fall through the cracks.”
According to Dr. Eric Cummings, Dean of the School of Humanities, Education, and the Arts – in which the Psychology program is housed – Dr. Mason has made an extraordinary impact on the school and the students through her dedication to enhancing the program.
“Dr. Mason is such a valuable part of our faculty. She’s led the Psychology program in a positive direction, advises and mentors scores of students, evaluates psychology courses and instructors, teaches her courses well, and gives back to the community,” Dr. Cummings said. “She’s serious about her work and works very hard, but she’ll make you laugh too. That’s what Cumberland looks for in its faculty members.”
Outside of academia, Dr. Mason has worked on consulting projects for Princeton University, the State of Tennessee, Vanderbilt University and various other organizations. In Summer 2017, Dr. Mason co-authored an e-textbook entitled, Statistics for the Social & Behavioral Sciences.
However, her passion remains in helping students find their own paths and reach their full potential, which she says is one of the highlights of her career.
“Of course, anybody I think would say the best part of this job is watching students determine their path,” Mason said. “But I think for me, it is the moment when students realize they are capable of more than they thought was possible for themselves.”
Dr. Mason said she is consistently impressed with the caliber and work ethic of the psychology students that come through the Cumberland program.
“No matter how high I set the bar at Cumberland, the students always meet or exceed the standards,” Mason said.