One of the first things you notice in psychology professor George Parrott’s office is the cot, to which he makes a humorous allusion to the couch used by the father of modern psychoanalysis.
“If it was good enough for Freud, it’s good enough for me,” Parrott jokes.
Actually, as a runner, Parrott uses the cot to do stretching exercises, but noted it also provides extra room for students to sit down when he has more than a couple of them in his office.
Parrott’s concerns for his students’ well-being is what won him this year’s Outstanding Teaching Award in the College of Social Sciences and Interdisciplinary Studies.
He started out as a physics major at UC Berkeley, but eventually shifted to psychology at Chico State University where he received his bachelor’s degree. After getting his master’s and doctoral degrees at Michigan State, Parrott returned to California. He teaches the Foundations of Behavioral Research and the History of Psychology, at Sacramento State.
Parrott chose psychology because he saw potential for social change.
“The ultimate goal here is, when we exit society it’s better than it was,” Parrott says.
That’s the same message he conveys to his students. Through the disciplines they learn, they have the ability to improve the world in small steps, Parrott says.
The friendlier atmosphere of a smaller university, such as Sacramento State, also lends itself better to imparting those kinds of lessons to students, according to Parrott.
He much preferred Chico over Berkeley because of the more personal contact between teachers and students, an approach he’s tried to continue at Sacramento State.
Parrott’s commitment to students continues past their commencement. He’s helped many of them with their graduate school applications and helped form an alumni council that brings past students back to share their experiences and be mentors to the undergrads.
After 38 years at Sacramento State, Parrott is retiring. He and his significant other, Christine Iwahashi, will do some traveling this summer, including trips to Japan, Italy and Australia.
Students will miss the way they say Parrott breathes life into tough subjects, a trait he downplays, saying that’s the teacher’s job. “We’re up there to be enthusiastic, to show that what we’re doing ... is incredibly neat stuff,” Parrott says.
“And if we don’t believe that, we probably shouldn’t be there.”
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