Professor nominated for highest educational honor

VCU psychology professor Everett Worthington, Ph.D., has been nominated for the Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Pepperdine University. Photo by Audry Dubon.

Stefani Zenteno
Contributing Writer

VCU’s director of counseling psychology Everett Worthington, Ph.D., has been nominated to receive the Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Pepperdine University for his work in psychology and leadership in the field of counseling.

The Doctor of Humane Letters is an honorary degree awarded to individuals who have distinguished themselves in areas other than science, government, literature or religion, and is the highest honor the Board of Regents of Pepperdine University can award a professor.

An official ceremony will be held on May 17. In addition, Worthington is set to deliver the commencement address at the university and attend a luncheon hosted in his honor. Pepperdine University is a private Christian university located in Malibu, Calif.

Worthington was notified about the honorary degree about a month ago when he was also asked to be Pepperdine’s commencement speaker.

Worthington has published more than 350 scholarly articles and papers and has written and edited more than 30 books. Worthington studies forgiveness, religion and spirituality in counseling and   marriage.

“I frankly thought they had made a mistake and I’d better accept quickly before they find out that they made a mistake and took it back. I was pretty surprised, I didn’t anticipate anything like that,” Worthington said.

Worthington said he feels a lot of gratitude, and is honored the Board of Regents of Pepperdine University would choose him for that honor.

The best advice Worthington said he can give to people is to be virtuous, unselfish and positive.

“He has quite a history of meaningful work. He’s body of research is one of the most impressive portfolios I’ve seen,” said Jennifer Elswick, the Director for Strategic Initiatives with the Department of Psychology.

Elswick added that the title Worthington will be conferred  is fitting because it speaks to the enormous positive influence he and his work have had on others.

“Dr. Everett is the most hardworking individual I have ever met, and also the most humble,” said Caroline Lavelock, a third-year graduate student studying Counseling Psychology at VCU. “We have co-authored many papers together, and he has advised my thesis and dissertation.”

Worthington is Lavelock’s direct academic adviser. She came to VCU specifically to work with him, and said she believes the recognition is well deserved.

“He has spent his entire career here at VCU, almost 40 years, and he has done so much for our psychology program and for the careers of each of his mentees,” she said.

According to Lavelock, Worth-ington has done a lot for the psychology program, and for the careers of each of his mentees. He has spent almost his entire career here at VCU.

“I can’t wait to tell him how proud we are to see him achieve this great recognition,” Lavelock said.

Another student describes Worth-ington as being extremely friendly and patient, as well as being a highly productive researcher,and teacher.

Yin Lin, a four-year doctoral student in counseling psychology at VCU, said she believes she’s received the most support from him through her Ph.D. program.

Chelsea Greer is also pursuing a Ph.D. in counseling psychology, and this is her last year at VCU. Worthington has supervised all of her research projects and has been her advisor during her five years at VCU.

“Much of his time and energy goes into his work,” Greer said. “However, he still finds time for everyone else that needs him, including his graduate and undergraduate students … he has been a mentor to me personally and professionally.”

Greer added that Worthington’s life is one of service to others such us, his students, co-workers, family and everyone.

“It’s truly not an exaggeration to say that countless lives have been bettered, and continue to be bettered, by Dr. Worthington,” she said.

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