Department of Psychology

School Psychology Primary Program Faculty

Currently, Drs. Jeff Laurent, Tyler Brown, Tracy Cruise, and Julie Herbstrith are the faculty with primary responsibility for the program.

Classes are taught by many other faculty members within the Psychology Department as well as in departments within the College of Education and Human Services. We receive more than 100 program inquiries and 40 applications annually. Approximately 8 - 10 students are accepted into the Program each year. 

Dr. Jeff Laurent, Program Coordinator

Dr. Jeff Laurent, School Psychology Coordinator Dr. Laurent joined the Program faculty in 2006. Dr. Laurent earned his Ph.D. in School Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin. He taught at Illinois State University and the University of Alabama. Most recently, he worked as a school psychologist in central Illinois before coming to Western. He teaches the introductory school psychology class along with the course on the psychology of exceptional children.

Dr. Laurent’s research interests center around anxiety and depression among youth. He serves on the editorial board of Journal of Applied School Psychology.


Dr. Tyler R. Brown

Dr. Tyler Brown, School Psychology Faculty Dr. Brown earned his Ph.D. in School Psychology from the University of South Dakota. Prior to joining WIU, he worked as a school psychologist in Oshkosh, Wisconsin and served as an adjunct instructor at Carroll University. Dr. Brown teaches in the areas of behavior and learning, child development, intellectual assessment, and academic assessment and intervention.

Dr. Brown’s research interests involve social-emotional development and intervention in children. Specifically, he is interested in studying interventions that are designed to decrease problematic behaviors and improve social-emotional and academic outcomes, such as mindfulness strategies, physical activity breaks, and tiered positive behavioral supports.


Dr. Tracy K. Cruise

Dr. Tracy Cruise

Dr. Cruise earned her PhD in School Psychology in 1998 from Illinois State University. Her Master’s is in Clinical Psychology (1993) from Illinois State University. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Southwest Missouri State University (now Missouri State University) in 1991. Her dissertation was entitled An Examination of Differences Between Peer- vs. Adult-Perpetrated Child Sexual Abuse: The Effects and Mediators. Dr. Cruise is a licensed clinical psychologist and licensed school psychologist in Illinois.

Dr. Cruise teaches undergraduate courses, including PSY 380 Introduction to Clinical Psychology and PSY 251 Personality and Adjustment. Within the School Psychology program, she teaches PSY 541 Practicum I: Orientation to School Psychology; PSY 543 School Psychology Practicum III: Consultation & Assessment; and PSY 544 School Psychology Practicum IV: Evaluation & Intervention. Courses she instructs in the Clinical/Community Mental Health program include PSY 571 Group Processes and Group Psychotherapy; PSY 574 Professional Issues in Clinical/Community Mental Health; and PSY 576 Family Therapy. Dr. Cruise also provides clinical supervision and direct services in WIU’s Psychology Clinic.

Historically, Dr. Cruise has been interested in the predictors of negative outcomes for sexual abuse victims. For example, do factors associated with abuse or aspects that occur after the abuse (e.g., disclosure or cognitive interpretation) predict outcomes. More recently, Dr. Cruise's research interests regard supervision and how direct training in supervision impacts supervisor and supervisee satisfaction.


Dr. Julie C. Herbstrith

Dr. Julie Herbstrith, School Psychology Faculty

Dr. Herbstrith earned her Ph.D. in School Psychology from Illinois State University. She teaches courses in child and adolescent psychopathology, behavioral consultation, and psychological interventions. She also supervises the assessment portion of 2nd year practicum courses. In addition to her faculty position, Dr. Herbstrith maintains an active practice in school districts in western and central Illinois.

Dr. Herbstrith's principal line of research involves the study of the social-psychological phenomena of prejudice and microaggressions. Her approach to this kind of research is unique because the primary focus has been on measuring prejudice toward parents who are gay, lesbian, or bisexual. As a school psychologist, and as a trainer of school psychologists, Dr. Herbstrith understands the implications of prejudice and discrimination in the school systems. Therefore, her work is aimed at measuring and understanding prejudice via both basic lab research and research conducted in the schools. Dr. Herbstrith’s end goal for this line of research is to be able to translate her findings into practical applications for school systems via consultation and training.

Dr. Herbstrith's personal web page


Dr. Ruth Kelly, Emeritus Professor

Dr. Ruth Kelly, Professor Emeritus Dr. Kelly arrived at Western Illinois University in 1994 with a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin. She worked as a school psychologist in Minnesota for twelve years before accepting her position at Western. She served as coordinator of the School Psychology Program from 2008-2018. 



Dr. Paula S. Wise, Emeritus Professor

Dr. Paula Wise.Dr. Wise arrived at Western Illinois University in 1977 with a Ph.D. from Ohio State University. She served as coordinator of the School Psychology Program from 1978 to 2008.