Current News

Alva T. Hughes ’81 Named New Brock Professor of Psychology

Apr 01, 2017


Professor Alva HughesRandolph-Macon College Provost William T. Franz is pleased to announce the appointment of Alva T. Hughes '81, professor of psychology, as the new Macon and Joan Brock Professor of Psychology. Hughes will be invested in the Brock Endowed Professorship at a ceremony on Friday, May 26, 2017, at 2:15 p.m. in the McGraw-Page Library. All members of the Randolph-Macon College community are cordially invited to attend.

The Macon and Joan Brock Professorship of Psychology was established in 2008 by the Brocks to recognize a senior member of the psychology department for exemplary teaching and scholarship.

Alva T. Hughes '81
Hughes is an alumna of Randolph-Macon, graduating in 1981. She was a National Merit Scholar at R-MC, a Federal Junior Fellow of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, and a National Science Foundation Junior Fellow. She was elected to the Omicron Delta Kappa fraternity, the national leadership society. Following her graduation, she earned an M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Maryland at College Park where she earned the Jack Bartlett Award for excellence in dissertation design in 1987. Hughes was appointed as assistant professor of psychology at Manhattanville College where she served for three years before joining the faculty at her alma mater in 1991. She was promoted to the rank of associate professor at R-MC in 1996 and to the rank of professor in 2012.

Hughes was a recipient of the United Methodist Church Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2010. To support her research, she has received five separate grants from the Walter W. Craigie Teaching and Research Endowment as well as three awards from the Rashkind Faculty Endowment.

Hughes' research specializes in cognition in college students, human-animal interactions and cognition in dogs. Most recently she was involved in a project to study stress levels in dogs and handlers who are involved in crisis therapy work. In this work, she has collaborated with HOPE AACR, and she has been involved with a staged crisis drill at Reagan National Airport. Results of the human-animal interaction research were presented at an international conference in Padua, Italy. Her research collaborations with her students have led to professional presentations or publications with more than 25 different undergraduates.

A gifted teacher, Hughes offers several courses in the psychology department, especially in the areas of cognitive psychology and the animal mind. She was a mainstay in two first-year programs, offering service learning courses with Philosophy Professor Donna Turney. Service learning has been a passion for Hughes. She has been a Service Fellow and offered a travel course to Brazil with a service component. Creative in the classroom, she stimulates student scholarship with innovative assignments ranging from interviews with psychologists to evaluating the veracity of ideas students encounter.

The previous holder of the Brock Professorship was Psychology Professor Kelly Lambert.

About Macon and Joan Brock
Throughout the years, Macon Brock Jr. '64 and his wife, Joan Brock, have been generous supporters of the college. The Brock Sports and Recreation Center, the Brock Residence Hall in Thomas Branch, and renovations to Fox and Haley Halls were all made possible with the help of the Brocks. In addition, the Brocks endowed the Joan and Macon Brock Professorship of Psychology, and generously supported the construction of the Brock Commons student center.

Brock graduated from R-MC in 1964 with a B.A. in Latin. He went on to Quantico, Virginia for Marine Corps Officer training, served in Vietnam and was a special agent with the United States Naval Intelligence at the Norfolk Naval Station before co-founding K and K Toys and Dollar Tree, Inc. He served on the R-MC Board of Trustees from 1992 to 2009 and as its chair from 1999 to 2009, and he is a former member of the college's Board of Associates. In 2009 he received an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from R-MC.

Brock served as chairman of R-MC's capital campaign, Building Extraordinary, a $125 million initiative. The Brocks gave millions of dollars to support the priorities of the campaign, including construction of a new science building, which is slated for completion in summer 2017.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Brock Environmental Center, at Pleasure House Point in Virginia Beach, Virginia, is named in the Brocks’ honor and is one of the most energy efficient buildings in the world.

In 2014, the Brocks were awarded the Council of Independent Colleges Award for Philanthropy. In 2015 the CIVIC Leadership Institute presented the Brocks with the Darden Award for Individual Leadership.