Moving On After 20 Years With CEHD

photo of dr. constance fournier and dr. william rae

Written by: Ashley Green (cehdcomm@tamu.edu)
Post date: January 15, 2019

Dr. William Rae and Dr. Constance Fournier have very different professional journeys, but after they got married, both of their journeys brought them to the College of Education and Human Development. After spending 20 years with the Department of Educational Psychology, both are retiring January 31.

Rae’s passion has not always been psychology. After graduating high school, he went to college with hopes of being a dentist. A brush with organic chemistry and a visit to the counseling center at the University of California changed his trajectory. He decided he wanted to work in a university counseling center and help other students in the same situation.

While working on his doctorate in counseling psychology from the University of Texas, Rae completed an internship in the university’s counseling center. During that time, the problems facing college students were not challenging enough for him. Rae wanted something more fast-paced and found himself in the medical field.

“I anticipated that I would be working with adults. I had little child training. However, serendipity provided a chance to work with children and families. Luckily, I fell into pediatric psychology which was a somewhat unknown field at the time,” he explained.

He went on to begin primary care pediatric psychology programs at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit and Scott & White Hospital in Temple.

In 1998, his plans changed once again. Rae took a visiting faculty appointment in school psychology at Texas A&M. Two years later, he became a full-time faculty member and director of the Counseling and Assessment Clinic.

Rae’s appointment meant Fournier also needed to find a job at Texas A&M. She began teaching part-time before becoming a full-time faculty member in the Department of Educational Psychology.

Unlike Rae, Fournier has always had a passion for the field. She was one of the first people in special education as a teaching career. Her first job was in the backroom of a warehouse in Michigan with 60 special education students aged 16-26.

“I was part of a big effort in the state to write curriculum for the older students needing that transition training to get a job,” said Fournier. “I really enjoyed it because we were basically inventing this curriculum.”

After a few years teaching in Michigan, Rae and Fournier met and were married. They moved to Texas where Fournier was a resource teacher in Belton before becoming the Special Education Coordinator at Scott & White Hospital.

Fournier decided to further pursue her passion and completed her doctorate in school psychology at the University of Texas. She went on to serve as a child psychologist at Scott & White Hospital before taking a faculty position at the University of Missouri at St. Louis. She was there until Rae took his full-time position at Texas A&M and they both moved back to Texas.

 Advice for other faculty

Rae and Fournier received countless pieces of advice over the years, advice they want to pass on to other faculty and those considering a faculty position.

“Collaboration is so important. Having people to bridge the gap between fields is crucial,” explained Fournier. “I understand why the silo happens because there is so much pressure to get all this research out and money in. But, we need to think about the danger of not really seeing the whole picture and re-inventing the wheel sometimes.”

They also say it is important to not limit that collaboration to other faculty. Developing meaningful relationships with students is also important.

“College is not just about the classes. It’s about the experience and having the type of conversations where you’re solving the problems of the world. That’s so important,” added Rae.

What’s next

In just a couple of months, Rae and Fournier are getting on a 17-day cruise before moving to London for six months. They hope this will help with the transition into retired life.

“All my life, I’ve always had blinders on. Full speed ahead. I’ve always worked every summer and I’ve always had the next step in mind,” explained Fournier. “My friends have told me, after retirement, to not do anything that’s professionally connected for a while because it is too easy to fall into the familiar.”

However, both Rae and Fournier know they will not be able to completely disconnect from the psychology field. After their stay in London, they anticipate jumping back in, at least on a small scale.