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University loses beloved professor

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Influential, passionate and a real individual are words colleagues used to describe Dr. Mary Prieto-Bayard, professor of psychology. Dr. Prieto-Bayard, who impacted the University through her teaching and leadership, died on June 17. She was 55. / file photo by Tom Galaraga

Influential, passionate and a real individual are words colleagues used to describe Dr. Mary Prieto-Bayard, professor of psychology. Dr. Prieto-Bayard, who impacted the University through her teaching and leadership, died on June 17. She was 55. / file photo by Tom Galaraga

Amby Sarabia
Managing Editor

For many of us, June 21 was just another day to lounge around the house, or sleep in until noon, glad to be out of school.

We did not see ourselves setting foot on campus until September. However, many faculty, staff and students found themselves back on campus attending a memorial service for Dr. Mary Prieto-Bayard, a well-respected psychology professor and a founder of the University’s Coalition for Diversity. She died June 17.

Born on Dec. 13, 1948, Dr. Prieto-Bayard found her passion for psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles, where she graduated with a degree in clinical psychology in 1988. She brought her knowledge and drive to make a difference to the University of La Verne on Sept. 1, 1994.

Once at the University Dr. Prieto-Bayard became a leader on numerous multicultural issues at all levels, Professor of Psychology Valerie Jordan said.

Considered influential person by students and an important asset to the institution as a whole, Dr. Preito-Bayard used her passion for clinical psychology to help make changes to the psychology department and the University. She chaired the Coalition for Diversity, which among other things works toward improving campus climate for minority students, faculty and staff; she was busy planning a conference in 2007.

Perhaps her biggest imprint was on the psychology doctoral program where she helped create a program in clinical-community psychology.

Deemed a scholar activist by colleague and friend Raymond Scott, associate professor of psychology and clinical training director, the two often bounced ideas off of each other.

“I will miss sharing ideas with her,” Scott said.

Determination and drive were just some of Dr. Prieto-Bayard’s qualities. Close friends and colleagues also valued her ability to be herself and her zest for life. Aside from teaching, Dr. Prieto-Bayard loved convertible cars, the beach and children.

“She was a very good listener and had such a passion for life and her discipline and helping others in her field of psychology,” said friend Kim Pomierski, administrative assistant in the psychology department. “And she loved to dance.”

Showing her zest for life, Dr. Prieto-Bayard left her mark on the American Psychological Association accreditation party when she took to the dance floor. Scott remembers her saying “If nobody wants to dance with me I’ll dance by myself,” he said.

“That was descriptive of who she was. She wasn’t a follower or afraid to be herself,” he said.

Aside from working at the University, where she was very much involved in joining clubs, running conferences and pushing for students to follow the core values of the institution, especially the community service aspect of it, Dr. Prieto-Bayard also spent time working at the Children’s Institute International in Los Angeles. On campus Dr. Prieto-Bayard pushed for a more diverse applicant pool.

“One of her many voices was the need to hire faculty of color, to be much more … representative of our students,” said Leticia Arellano-Morales, associate professor of psychology.

“We lost a remarkable person,” said Phil Hofer, director of the International and Study Abroad Center.

Dr. Prieto-Bayard is survived by her son Tom, daughter Liz, grandchildren Jennifer and Daniel, her father, sisters and brothers. In lieu of flowers, send contributions to the Dr. Mary Prieto-Bayard Scholarship Fund.

Amby Sarabia can be reached at amby182@earthlink.net.

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