The Ohio State University at Marion


Dr. Terry Pettijohn dedicated to students and teaching

In September 1974, Terry Pettijohn just finished his Ph.D. at Bowling Green State University, and wanted a faculty position at a college that was close and emphasized quality teaching. With his wife Bernie and his 4 month old son Terry II, he started his career at The Ohio State University at Marion

According to Pettijohn, this was the ideal job, blending a small college campus of a major research university with a community where he could teach psychology and raise his family.

"When we came to Marion, we were impressed with the sense of warm community that met us,” said Pettijohn.

“We enjoyed the academic family on campus, and we found a church family in the First Presbyterian Church in downtown Marion. We even found a family in our dentist, the Finney Family Dentistry, that we have been going to since we arrived in Marion," he said.

This sense of family continued through the years as they raised their own family, Terry II, Karen, and Tommy. After graduating from River Valley High School, all three children began their college careers at Ohio State Marion before finishing on the Columbus campus.

According to Pettijohn, he loves teaching, and would not have done anything else in life.

"Teaching has always been the cornerstone of my academic career," said Pettijohn.

He has been recognized many times for his teaching excellence, including receiving The Ohio State University Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching three times (the only university professor to receive this honor). He has also been recognized for teaching by the American Psychological Association and The Ohio State University College of Arts and Sciences, and was inducted into The Ohio State University Academy of Teaching.

According to Pettijohn, the highlight of his teaching occurred last month when he received the 2015 Faculty Teaching Award from Ohio State Marion.

"Nothing meant more to me than being able to receive the Marion Campus Award just before retirement," shared Pettijohn.

Professor Pettijohn has been able to incorporate his love of teaching into his scholarly achievements. His introductory psychology textbook was published in four editions. He edited four editions of a readings book in introductory psychology, as well as three editions of a readings book in social psychology.

"Writing textbooks for psychology students has definitely helped me to become a better teacher over the years. It has made me more familiar with original classic research in psychology," said Pettijohn.

Pettijohn has worked hard to incorporate technology into his teaching.

"I was a pioneer in computer assisted instruction, including computer study programs, websites, and computer simulations," he explained.

He served as editor-in-chief of the MicroPsych Network newsletter, and wrote computer programs for his students to learn more effectively. Pettijohn developed a general psychology website, an internet-based study textbook, and developed transparency and PowerPoint sets for several publishers.

Over the past three decades, Pettijohn has edited a psychology dictionary, and has written 31 instructor teaching manuals and student study guides for introductory psychology, social psychology, adjustment, and motivation textbooks.

"By writing so many teaching materials,” he said, “I hope I have helped many students learn and love psychology as I do."

Pettijohn's phrase "psych is fun" has been echoed by many students over the years.

Indeed, helping students learn about the fun and exciting field of psychology is where Pettijohn has always excelled. Over his four decades of teaching, he has taught over 30 different seminars and courses. Overall he has taught about 400 courses in his career. He started teaching at Bowling Green State University when he was a graduate student.

"After teaching the first course, I knew this is what I wanted to do in life," said Pettijohn.

He taught the vast majority of his courses on the Marion campus, where he started his career in 1974.

"Students have provided the motivation for me to work hard to improve teaching."

He has always enjoyed working with students, and throughout his career, he has been lucky to have capable, motivated, and caring students in his classes. In a fitting end, after his last class spring semester, his students gave him a standing ovation. With tears in his eyes, he was overwhelmed with a sense of accomplishment and appreciation. Pettijohn also taught Psychology classes at Marion Correctional Institution when Ohio State had an educational program there.

Pettijohn has conducted research with a variety of subjects, including dogs, guinea pigs, gerbils and people. He was trained as an animal behaviorist, and most of his research has focused on gerbil social behavior, including learning, motivation, communication, and exploration. Throughout his career, Pettijohn has been lucky to have students that were interested in participating in his research. Many of his research publications include student co-authors.

"One of the wonderful aspects of the Marion campus is the opportunity for students to get involved in faculty research programs," he stated.

"Students fully participate in all aspects of research from data collection to publication," added Pettijohn

It is appropriate that the past several publications have been based on student research. Gretchen Fogle's senior honors thesis on stress and health habits in college students is a recent example. And the last publication, due to be published soon, is on student texting in classrooms, and is based on research by psychology students Bobbi Wilds, Nick Vaughn, Erik Frazier, and Ellie Rieser. Pettijohn has also collaborated with his son, Terry, on several publications in recent years. Terry II is currently a Professor of Social Psychology and Department Chair at Coastal Carolina University.

Pettijohn has encouraged students to get involved in research, whether it is in class, as independent studies, or senior honors research. He has served as faculty advisor for 10 senior theses, and has served on thesis committees for other students. Many of these students have continued on to graduate school for advanced degrees.

Pettijohn shared, "there is nothing more rewarding to a teacher than knowing you have touched the lives of your students."

One former student wrote him to let him know that taking an animal behavior class helped him find his faith in God. Another student credited the knowledge she gained in a behavioral neuroscience course with helping her and her husband get pregnant.

"Perhaps the most touching moment was when a mother came to his class with a notepad to take notes when her daughter was sick and unable to attend,” Pettijohn reflected.

"I have had the opportunity to teach a wide variety of classes, including psychopharmacology, psychology of emotion, history of psychology, biology of learning, motivation, stress and time management, research methods and introductory. Maybe the secret of continuing to love teaching is due to continually teaching new courses and updating older ones," he speculated.

Pettijohn and his family have been active in the Marion community since they arrived. Both he and his wife Bernie have been officers at First Presbyterian Church, and both have served on the Christian Education Committee and taught Sunday school there. They were active in Cub Scouts and Brownies. Bernie was involved with River Valley's PTO at Claridon Elementary School.

Pettijohn has worked with the Marion Drug Council, the Welfare Department, the Crawford County Alcohol and Drug Council, and served as project analyst for a Marion County Community Needs Assessment. And over the years, Pettijohn has presented hundreds of talks to various community groups.

Within the Marion Campus Psychology Department, Pettijohn served as program coordinator. During the past five years, he served as supervisor for psychology students engaging in community internships.

"Students have had the fantastic opportunity to intern at Marion agencies such as Turning Point, CareLine, Homeless Shelter, Hospice, and Harding Pointe. This has been valuable for psychology majors, and has helped the campus reach out and get involved in the Marion Community," he said.

For over 35 years, Pettijohn has served as faculty advisor for the Marion Campus Psychology Club, a student organization that helps students learn through lectures, field trips and service projects. The club's major service activity for fall semester is the Annual Giving Tree Project, in which students, faculty, and staff at Ohio State Marion adopt several families through Turning Point at the holiday season. Mothers and children of domestic abuse are provided with gifts donated by people on campus.

"This has been one of the most successful activities on campus,” he shared, “and has been extremely gratifying to me to see the generosity and warmth of our campus."

Pettijohn received Ohio State’s Award for Outstanding Student Organization Advisor for his efforts.

Although Pettijohn has only taught on the Marion campus, he has been involved on Columbus campus as well. He served on several committees in the psychology department, including serving as chair of the Undergraduate Program Committee.

"It was interesting to be responsible for all course changes in the entire psychology department," said Pettijohn.

He also served as a judge for Ohio State’s Homecoming King and Queen in Columbus. Pettijohn was inducted as a faculty member into several student honorary societies. Specifically, he was inducted as a faculty member into The Ohio State University Bucket and Dipper Junior Honorary Society (including being thrown into Mirror Lake), The Ohio State University Mortar Board Senior Honorary Society, and The Ohio State University Sphinx Senior Honorary Society.

Pettijohn was quick to thank faculty and staff on the campus for helping him to accomplish his achievements.

Pettijohn explained, "I have worked with four deans, and all of them have been supportive of my academic goals. Our current administration, Dean Greg Rose and Associate Dean Bishun Pandey, have always recognized my efforts.”

"Marge Hazelett, school psychologist and current learning disability specialist for the campus, served as an early role model as a dedicated and motivated teacher," he added.

Pettijohn felt, Marion campus staff, including advisors, secretaries, maintenance, and many others, have been instrumental in helping faculty succeed in their teaching. And all his faculty colleagues have made the Marion campus a warm and inviting place to engage in teaching and scholarship. In particular, the current psychology faculty, Tracy Tylka, Chris Daddis, Nikole Patson-Huffman, and Vanessa Sawicki, have all worked together as a team.

"I am very proud of all of them, and feel great about the future of Ohio State Marion knowing they will continue the work that Dan Christie and I started," Pettijohn said reflecting back on his years.

Pettijohn retires on June 1, after 41 years of service. He and his wife Bernie will be moving to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina this summer to be close to their family. Five of six grandchildren will be in Myrtle Beach and two of their three children will be there.

"The youngest grandchild, Colton, still lives in Columbus. So we will be back to visit as often as possible," he added.

Pettijohn does not feel he can completely give up teaching, so he hopes to teach an occasional course at Coastal Carolina University, which is only 15 minutes from their new home in South Carolina.

Pettijohn thanked Marion for providing a great place to work and raise a family.

"We will miss Marion, but we look forward to new adventures in retirement."