Wayne Norman had an extensive teaching career in both the USA and Europe and he decided to give back to the teaching world by coming to LCC International University in 2013 for Summer session. What was initially just a short visit to Klaipėda, turned out to be a beginning of a new journey. Now, Wayne works at LCC, conducts research together with Psychology students, and enjoys his family life in Lithuania.
Wayne, how come you decided to choose LCC from the wide choice of universities available to you?
I have taught at university for 40 years now. In January 2013, I began to think that I have had an extensive career, many opportunities, and perhaps it was time to start giving back to the teaching community. I wanted to come back to Europe, since I lived in Europe for many years before and I felt at home here. The Dean of the university I worked in suggested I look into Summer session at LCC. The first time I came to LCC was in May 2013. While living on campus I have realized that I liked this place, the setting, and the people. At the end of May I was offered a job; however, I needed to go back to Northern Carolina where I was still teaching full time. I had to finish everything with that university before I could move to Klaipėda. I came to teach full time at LCC in the Fall 2014. By the end of the spring, in April 2015, I was married to a Lithuanian, Giedrė Norman, who is also a professor here at LCC, and now we have a son. It has been amazing for me working at LCC. I am most happy about how stable the Social Sciences Department is. We have three Lithuanian professors, Dr. Jennifer Schneider from the U.S., who has just received a permanent residence, so she is not leaving LCC, and here I am married to a Lithuanian, so not planning to leave anytime soon.
You have worked in multiple fields in psychology. Recently one of your thesis students did her research in experimental psychology. Could you share more about your interest in this specific field?
Since my freshman year in college I knew that I wanted to study experimental psychology, get a Ph.D., and teach at a university. I proceeded to get a Master's degree and later a Ph.D. in experimental psychology at Washington State University, USA. Even though I have worked for 10 years in behavioral psychology focusing on animal research, I still wanted to return to something that I was interested in, which was neuropsychology. During my sabbatical I spent a year in St. Andrews University, Scotland as a visiting scholar. There, I have retrained and was able to conduct research on cognitive neuropsychology. Even though I did not get a degree, I was able to study how information is being shared from the right side of the brain to the left, and also how it is not being shared. We studied this in children, adults, and patients born without the connection between the two sides. I did that kind of research for about 10 years. After that, my attention and interest shifted to the history of neuroscience. I got a fellowship and for three summers I was a research fellow at the University of Oxford, so I retrained again to do historical research in neuroscience. As for now, my research focuses on the heart rate variability. Particularly, I am focusing on the relationship between that and certain cognitive functions such as self-control.
Even though there are few Psychology major students, some take Psychology courses as electives. What are some benefits for students to take such courses as an addition to their overall education?
A student can be a Business major and concentrate on four to six courses in Psychology. They can discuss how to combine both studies appropriately with either a faculty member or their advisor. Choosing additional courses in psychology helps graduates sell themselves on the job market. For example, students interested in Christian ministry end up taking psychology courses, which will help them if they plan to work with youth. The variety of areas in psychology might help with personality assessment or things related to human relations departments. I suspect and hope that over the next couple of years we will see more students from other majors taking our courses.
What is the main challenge for you at LCC?
I think one of the biggest challenges and areas of excitement is the faculty's engagement in research. Our faculty agree with the Ministry of Education that a university should be a place where there is space for both teaching and conducting research. There is an increased emphasis on research, and at first sight that feels somewhat painful. Particularly because we need to shift our focus towards the things we did not do previously. Nevertheless, in the long run it will revitalize the faculty and how they see their jobs. They are not just teachers, but academics involved in both teaching students and their research. There are some universities where people do so much research that eventually they might not care about teaching. We will never get to that point at LCC. As professors, we have always taken the teaching part very seriously. The fact that we are highly student-oriented can be compared to other universities where you sit through your lecture and come back later to write an exam. This is not how we do it at LCC.