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Landrum ’85 returns to alma mater to engage students

Barry McNamara
MONMOUTH, Ill. – Before terms such as “student friendly” became popular in higher education, they were central to the liberal arts experience at Monmouth College.

Those were among the reflections shared by 1985 graduate Eric Landrum, who returned to campus earlier this week to speak with psychology students.

A longtime psychology professor, Landrum is also president of Psi Chi, the international psychology honor society.

He said he returned to Monmouth “to give back, and to tell students the success stories they can become with an education from Monmouth College.”

“I’m pretty proud of this place, and I’m happy to be here,” said Landrum, who has taught for the last quarter-century at Boise State University.

Landrum said the reason he got into higher education was because of three psychology professors he had as a Monmouth student – Bill Hastings, Charles Meliska and Dean Wright.

“I saw three role models in front of a classroom every day and I wanted to be like them,” he said.

One of their lessons that Landrum tries to follow is that “good professors prepare their students for the real world.”

For psychology students, one way that is achieved is with fewer multiple-choice exams and more student research, he said.

“I remember going to local conferences like ILLOWA, where students at Monmouth College still go to today,” said Landrum. “That faculty-student collaboration, when you’re sitting one-on-one ... that interaction makes all the difference in the world. That’s what makes Monmouth a special place.”

Landrum has published more than 20 books or book chapters and close to 100 other publications during his professional career. His first publication was about research he conducted as a Monmouth student. In 1985 he, Meliska and a colleague at the University of Iowa published research on the effects of caffeine on wheel running in rats, which appeared in the well-respected journal Pharmacology, Biochemistry, and Behavior.

“What I realize is that people (at Monmouth) were devoted to students before the buzzwords of ‘active learning’ or ‘student-friendly.’ ... I have tried to model my interactions with students the way Monmouth’s psychology faculty members did for me,” he said.

Landrum was inducted into Psi Chi in 1983 – at a ceremony held in Meliska’s home. He served as Monmouth’s chapter president during his senior year and remained active during his career, first while teaching at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville and then at Boise State.

An educational psychologist, Landrum interviews teachers of psychology across the country while conducting research on the scholarship of teaching and learning.

“(Being president) is a huge honor, and it starts because of opportunities I had here at Monmouth,” he said.