The creation of a department of Psychology in the Faculty of Social Sciences was approved by the University of Ife Senate during the 1976/1977 academic year and commenced academic activities with part time lecturers. Among whom were Dr. C.G.M. Bakare (now a Late Professor) of the Department of Guidance and Counseling, University of Ibadan, Dr. E.O. Atolagbe of the Department of Psychology of the same University. Others from Ife, were Dr. Dayo Adejumo (Professor Adejumo of blessed memory), Dr. Dibu-Ojerinde (now emeritus Professor) at the Department of Educational Foundations and Counselling, and immediate past Registrar of Joint Admission Matriculations Board (JAMB), Dr. Eileen Wilson who later joined the department as a full-time Lecturer I in 1982, and Mr. Akinsola Olowu (now a retired Professor) who was a part-time lecturer, before being transferred from the registry to become Assistant Lecturer in the department in 1979. He was the Dean of Faculty of Social sciences, Obafemi Awolowo University, from July 1995 to 1997. Professor Olowu delivered the first inaugural lecture that emanated from the department on 14th June 1994 on “Exploration into the Person.”
The “trinity” of full timers that graduated the first set of students were made up of Professor (retired) Funmi Togonu-Bickersteth, (a onetime Deputy Vice Chancellor – DVC Academic), who joined the Department as Lecturer grade II, Mrs. Sheila Jeyifo who was appointed Assistant Lecturer on the same day with Professor Olowu. At present, the staff strength of the department has increased tremendously. Furthermore, the department has grown in all ramifications; the current Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Professor Chris Ajila) also hails from the Department. Department of Psychology at its inception offered a B.Sc. (Social Sciences) Psychology Degree, but today, three more programmes have been added to it. These are Master of Science (M.Sc.) in Psychology and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Psychology Degrees, and the latest is Master of Managerial Psychology (MM.Psych). In term of students’ enrolment, there are presently, about 600 undergraduate students in the department. This is a clear improvement on the first set of twelve students who were enrolled during the 1977/78 academic year. The department has been graduating students on a yearly basis since its creation many years ago, and the academic curriculum has been revised on different occasions to correct deficiencies and in compliance with National University Commission’s directives. In pursuit of this goal of constant up-dating of curriculum, the processing of a new revision has reached an advanced stage. These initiatives have yielded dividend, as the department has enjoyed full accreditation status since the 2005/2006 session. Several graduates of the Department of Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, are well-placed and currently pursuing excellent careers in their respective place of employment, which include; institutions, hospitals, prisons, banks and other financial institutions, as well as social welfare offices. Many of them are now pursuing postgraduate degrees at other universities in Nigeria and abroad. Some of them have completed their Ph.D. programmes in the department and several others have bagged M.Sc. degrees of the department in different areas of specialization. Indeed about 70% of the current staff strength of the department obtained at least a first degree from the department.
The Psychology Department in Obafemi Awolowo University has a mission to prepare students for graduate study in psychology and related fields, and to equip students with relevant skills needed for employment at various areas of human endeavour. The philosophy of the Department is derived from the overall vision of the University which aims at creating a teaching and learning community which will impart appropriate skills, knowledge, behaviour and attitudes; advances the frontiers of knowledge that are relevant to national and global development, and engender a sense of selfless public sector. It is also the philosophy of the Department to produce thorough bred and disciplined students, with excellent knowledge and skills, who will be able to demonstrate competence and knowledge in any area of endeavour they may choose to go into after graduation. As its vision, the Department has strong will to attain excellence in the following core value areas; Teaching, Integrity, Scholarship, Leadership, Research, and Community Involvement.