When Dr. Elaine Copeland finished her dissertation at Oregon State University, her father took it up and down the road to show every neighbor and person he could find. She was the first Black female to complete a Ph.D. in Counseling at Oregon State University. 

Copeland went on to become the Associate Dean and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at the University of Illinois, and the President of Clinton College, among many other things. She attributes many of these opportunities to her success in the Counseling program at Oregon State’s College of Education

“I’ve been able to do a lot of things I don’t think I would have been able to do without my advanced degree,” Copeland says. 

Copeland graduated from Oregon State in 1974 with a Ph.D. in Counseling alongside her late husband Robert Copeland. 

Copeland says she was fascinated by Oregon and its differences from South Carolina where she grew up. 

She and her family were one of five Black families in Corvallis, and her husband Robert was one of two Black students in the Science Education Program. 

“We became much more aware of the need for diversity, and how to work across lines with a number of different people.”

Copeland’s experience working with diverse populations was informed by her position at the Educational Opportunities Program. 

“I worked with the students in the Educational Opportunities Program, and even though I was always culturally sensitive, I became much more aware of the racial and ethnic diversity of the country.”

Working for the Educational Opportunities Program gave Copeland an opportunity to support Oregon State students, which she continues to do today. 

“I like to see people that I think I might have touched somewhere along the way go on and do great things,” she says.  

Copeland continues to touch the lives of students by donating to the College of Education.

“I will continue to give as long as I’m living. I realize that much of what I was able to accomplish was because I did have my Ph.D.” she says. “Oregon State was good for the both of us.”

For Dr. Cass Dykeman, becoming a professor was not only a dream of his, but something he says he was destined to do. Many generations ago, in 1542, a family member of his was a professor at Oxford University and ever since then there’s been more than he can count. 

“It’s just the family gig,” Dykeman says. 

Dykeman is a full Professor of Counseling in Oregon State University’s College of Education. He is a third-generation Oregonian on his father’s side and a fourth-generation Oregonian on his mother’s side. More notably, he’s anticipating moving to the top spot for the most completed dissertations of all time at Oregon State. 

“The number of people I’ve been able to help obtain a doctorate at OSU is my biggest accomplishment. The joy of it is that those people will go out and train others, so the influence you have in the field is exponential through your doctorate students,” Dykeman says. “It’s been fun to watch them achieve their dreams.” 

His research is focused on Corpus Linguistics, English for Academic Purposes, Bayesian Statistics, and online teaching and counseling methods. His primary focus is on how anxiety and depression impact learning. Dykeman says his fields of study have had a positive impact on his ability to teach his students. 

A subfield of linguistics, English for Academic Purposes, looks at how English is used in academia and research. Dykeman teaches this to his doctoral students, as it’s something that isn’t taught in their undergraduate or master’s programs. 

“None of my students grew up speaking English for Academic Purposes; if they did it’d be really weird. It’s something they have to learn, something they don’t know,” he says. “My research and research interests have changed how I teach writing because I now approach teaching my students how to write, as how you would approach teaching a foreign language.” 

Dykeman’s past research includes the study of psychotherapy outcomes using single-subject design, an experimental research method. Looking toward the future, he is interested in the use of robotics and artificial intelligence in counseling. 

“There’s far more need for counseling than there are human beings that we can train,” he says. “So creating robots that could take in text about anxiety or depression and learn from that and respond to the human beings along certain algorithms, could be of help with mental health issues independent of human interaction.” 

He hopes that’s something he can pursue before retirement. 

Throughout his years of work at Oregon State, Dykeman’s genuine love for teaching is what makes his job remarkable. He says starting with students who don’t believe they can do something, and helping them become accomplished in that, is the best part of being a professor. 

“That’s the genuine joy. Helping them overcome their fears and doubts about what they can achieve,” he says.