Random Sample

Member since: 1991

Occupation: Vice president of academic affairs, dean of faculty and associate professor of psychology at Emory & Henry College, Emory, Va.

Living his faith: Qualls’s mother would have been happiest if he had become a minister. But in April 1983, while completing religion and speech education degrees at David Lipscomb College (now Lipscomb University), Qualls was encouraged by education psychology professor John Harris, PhD, to study marriage and family therapy. Qualls earned a master’s degree at Abilene Christian University, then a clinical psychology doctorate from Memphis State University (now the University of Memphis). Qualls says his faith as a Christian led him to a life of service. "I’ve always felt an obligation to do something that was more about others than it was about me."

Meeting with skepticism: In 1990, Qualls became a psychology professor at Emory & Henry, a United Methodist Church-affiliated liberal arts college in southwestern Virginia. When his grandmother became ill in 1992, Qualls moved to Nashville to care for her and became clinical director of AGAPE, a local Christian counseling and adoption service. His efforts to bring mental health services to rural church congregations met with some doubt. "I think it’d be fair to say that people of faith-based communities, particularly conservative faith-based communities are somewhat skeptical, at times, of secular psychology organizations. They worry [we] might try to change them and the way they believe." But Qualls and his associates met people halfway. "There was a comfort level people had coming to their house of worship to receive counseling." After his grandmother died, Qualls went back to Emory & Henry in 1999 as psychology department chair.

Reluctant administrator, willing leader: Named dean of faculty in 2006, Qualls doesn’t especially enjoy administrative tasks, but embraces his leadership role. "My theory about administrators is the best ones are the reluctant ones, because they really are making a sacrifice, giving up something they love. I miss practice about as much as I miss teaching."

A cabin in the woods: Qualls and his 16-year-old son, Madison, spend time at the family’s 10-by-12-foot cabin bordering Jefferson National Forest in Smyth County, Va. They hunt, chop wood and work on renovations. Long work days start at 7 a.m. and end 12 hours later, but Qualls leaves his work at the office. "When I’m home, I’m home, and I spend time with my family."

—C. Munsey


Each month, "Random Sample" profiles an APA member. You might be next.