University of Vermont

College of Arts and Sciences

Department of Psychological Science

John Dewey Hall: Current and Past


Anatomy and Physiology Auditorium
Anatomy and Physiology Auditorium
The University of Vermont was founded in 1791. Its everyday designation as "UVM" derives from its Latin name Universitas Viridis Montis - University of the Green Mountains. It is likely that the study of psychology began shortly thereafter under the rubric of moral philosophy. Since this modest beginning over two hundred years ago, undergraduate and graduate programs of study in psychology have flourished, with our students making innumerable contributions to psychology as a science and a profession throughout the world.

Originally the Medical College building, John Dewey Hall was designed by Burlington architect Walter Willcox, and the cornerstone was laid by the Governor of Vermont on July 6, 1904, the centennial of the first commencement at UVM. Facing Colchester Avenue and the University Green, the building's entranceway is flanked by two two-story Ionic columns. Above the entrance, two square windows with criss-cross muntins flank a plaque that reads "University of Vermont College of Medicine 1825-1905".

Above is an early photograph of the steeply pitched Anatomy and Physiology Auditorium now occupied by room 212. The cadavers, raised and lowered on a dumbwaiter located adjacent to the auditorium, were displayed during dissection classes, while patients sat in the front for demonstrations about general medicine. The steep incline afforded all students an excellent view.

The Department Emerges

Professor Donald Forgays
Professor Donald Forgays at the Dedication of John Dewey Hall, held in Memorial Lounge on September 10, 1969
By the 1960s it was apparent that the solution to a space problem was the building of a new medical college. The University decided to construct a Medical Science Center and turn over the Medical College Building to the Psychology Department, which by then had also grown quite large. The University Engineering Department did a feasibility study to determine if this was practical and what would be needed to make the changes. In 1969 a contract of $1,131,000 was awarded to the Pizzagalli Construction Company of Burlington to complete the project.

Other Historical Highlights

1965 Establishment of a Ph.D. Program in psychology. Chair: Donald G. Forgays
1967 First Ph.D. in psychology - Robert J. Lavallee.
1969 Establishment of Clinical Ph.D. program. Founder and first Director: Harold Leitenberg
1970 Department moves to newly renovated building, John Dewey Hall
1972 Establishment of Behavior Therapy and Psychotherapy Center. Founding Director: Harold Leitenberg
1973 Clinical program first accredited by the American Psychological Association


Since the establishment of the Psychology Department in 1937 we have graduated well over 7,000 undergraduate majors in psychology and, as of Commencement 2010, 435 doctoral students. Our mission is the creation, evaluation, dissemination, and application of psychological knowledge and skills to understand and improve the lives of individuals, organizations, and communities.

Last modified December 17 2014 11:07 AM

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