New Location, new major, new director for psychology, sociology department


Jordan Rusche, Editor-in-Chief (She/Her)




The School of Psychology, Sociology and Rural Studies will begin the year with a new location, a new director and new possibilities for existing and incoming students.

After spending over four years in the basement of Hansen Hall –something that was supposed to be a “temporary” solution—faculty and staff will be moving to the Ag Engineering building next to the Hilton M. Briggs Library in early September.

This comes with the relocation of the Ag Engineering building’s previous residents into other buildings, as well, like the new Raven Precision Ag Center.

The move has been good news for the school’s faculty and staff.

“I think every single faculty member and staff are excited about the move,” Martin said. “Everybody is excited to have windows.”

Faculty and staff were given the news of their relocation earlier this spring and have been meeting throughout the summer to prepare for the move.

“The committee consisted of two psychology faculty, two sociology faculty, the dean, … the director joined in once he got here, and of course the architect, facilities and interior design people were part of this committee,” Psychology professor Rebecca Martin said.

The office spaces will be dedicated to the psychology and sociology departments, but some parts of the building, like certain lab spaces, will still be used by ag biosystems and engineering classes.

Updates will be made to the existing building later on, like fixing its heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system and potentially changing the building’s name to reflect its new inhabitants.

One of the other major changes made this summer was the appointment of a director for the new school.

Paul Markel spent 25 years as a psychology professor at Minot State University in North Dakota and began working at South Dakota State University this June.

“It’s been very exciting, very positive, and I’ve been very pleased with the process of transitioning,” Markel said. “I’ve been meeting with colleagues and staff, and I’m impressed with the welcome.”

Along with preparing for the school’s relocation, Markel also has had to adjust to a new university, though Martin says he has been taking the changes in stride.

“He’s been on the job now for just over a month. I had met with him a lot in that month to try to help get him up to speed with SDSU,” Martin said. “I’ve been very happy with what I’ve seen with him so far, and so I am optimistic that he will be able to take our school in a good direction as we start off.”

Markel is also happy with how much the existing faculty and staff have done to prepare for the new school.

“I really commend the faculty and chairs for all the work they’ve done, and the dean (Lynn Sargeant of the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences),” he said.

With the official combination of the psychology and sociology departments into one school this summer, there will be possibilities for more interdisciplinary research, according to Markel.

“What I’m truly excited and optimistic for is the potential for collaboration … in a common physical space,” he said.

Along with the new school, a new major in criminology also will be launched this fall, and graduate students can now pursue a specialization in community development through the sociology department.

Markel hopes these changes will inspire renewed interest in the psychology and sociology departments.

“We encourage people to come by and contact us,” Markel said. “We’re happy to see if [our school] is a good fit.”

To learn more about the school and the programs it offers, visit