Helping students: Beyond the classroom and counseling session

jerry deffenbacherThis article originally appeared in the College of Natural Sciences’ Elements magazine. Read the full issue here.

College can be stressful. College of Natural Sciences’ Professor Emeritus Jerry Deffenbacher knows that well. The psychology professor, whose research has focused on stress, anxiety, and anger, will now help make the experience a little less so for students in the future. He is supporting a new scholarship endowment created in his name to help exceptional students at least eliminate the financial anxiety that can surround a college education.

Deffenbacher himself was the beneficiary of a scholarship when he was an undergraduate at the University of Washington. Having the extra support “made it a whole lot easier,” he says of his undergraduate experience. So, he says, “giving scholarships – like people gave to me – is bringing it full circle.”

Deffenbacher’s passion has long been for understanding issues facing young adults – and helping them work through those challenges. He was a member of the counseling psychology program in the department and, early in his career, worked as a senior psychologist in the University Counseling Center. He began his career at Colorado State in 1976 and formally retired in 2011. During his time here, he won the Jack E. Cermak Award for Advising and was named a college Professor Laureate.

“We are incredibly grateful for Jerry’s years of service to the college and to the greater community,” says Jan Nerger, dean of the College of Natural Sciences. “His contributions to science and his dedication to students and to the University has been extraordinary. And now, his gift will ensure a lasting legacy that extends his work for generations of students to come.”

The scholarship will support students working at a high academic level and with a financial need – with preference given to those who will be the first in their families to go to college. His contributions will help to make the Jerry L. Deffenbacher Scholarship in Psychology Endowment self-sustaining. He hopes that the awards “will make it easier for students to continue their studies.” In particular, he says, receiving the scholarship “may take a little of the pressure off to work as many hours,” while also full-time students. He sees it as “support to help them achieve what they want to do.”