John Falkowski '75PhD

Alumni Spotlight

John Falkowski Retired Director of Human Resources

Degree(s): MS, PhD

Summary of Background:
After getting my doctorate in (developmental) Psychology at UMass, I started a pediatric rehab. program at the Western Massachusetts Hospital. I then became a licensed psychologist and served as the Chief Psychologist and Director of Therapy Services at the Monson State Hospital (Developmental Center). After getting my MBA at night, I started a company that customized computer systems to allow university researchers to analyze data on personal computers. I then spent the next 20+ years as a Director of Human Resources at a start-up company, a Fortune 100 financial services firm, and at a college and university.

Future Goals:
To continue enjoying my retirement: running, biking, hiking with my dogs, meditating and getting ready for my 50th wedding anniversary with my wife who I met during my first week in graduate school at UMass, where she was getting her graduate degree in Communications Disorders.

What did you love most about your career path?
Variety: I actually started out as a doctoral student in math at UMass before switching to psychology. After getting my doctorate, I decided to pursue a non-academic path. Respecializing in clinical psych. and becoming licensed psychologist and then switching to management.

How did UMass and/or Psychological and Brain Sciences help prepare you?
Dick Bogartz, the head of the Developmental Psych. area at the time, was a think-outside-the-box person. He made a unilateral decision to allow me to transfer from the Math Department to the Psychology Department. He was always looking for areas outside the mainstream to research. After my masters thesis advisor, who was interested in the development of prosocial behavior left, Dick asked me if I would like to ask some preschoolers “What does love mean to you.” That led to my dissertation, with him as advisor: “The Development of the Concept of Love.” That openness and flexibility led me to variety of different careers, inside and outside of psychology.

Tips for Current Undergrads:
Besides studying hard to excel in your psychology courses, using your electives, explore other areas outside psychology. Do not adopt a rigid career path, stay open and flexible.