Michelle L. Ceynar

Professor of Psychology

Office Location: Ramstad Hall - 101

  • Professional
  • Biography


  • Ph.D., Social Psychology, University of Montana, 1996
  • M.A., Psychology, University of Montana, 1995
  • B.A., Psychology, University of Northern Colorado, 1992

Areas of Emphasis or Expertise

  • Research pertaining to gender issues and prejudice


  • Early Psychological Research Contributions of Women of Color, Volume 1 (Routledge 2023) : View Book


  • Faculty Excellence Award in Teaching 2015-2016, Pacific Lutheran University


“Remember that Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did, but she did it backwards and in high heels” – attributed to Ann Richards

I became interested in psychology as an undergraduate at the University of Northern Colorado. I was lucky to have three professors who piqued my interest, challenged me, and ultimately convinced me that I could conquer the world: Dr. Eugene Sheehan who captured my interest in prejudice on the first day of his class Psychology of Prejudice and encouraged me to go to graduate school; and Dr. William (Skip) Barnard who took me on as a research assistant and gave me the chance to co-author my first publication. After graduating, I ended up at the University of Montana by a twist of fate. I was attending a conference in Boise and wandered into a graduate school information exchange. I sat down with Dr. Nabil Haddad and within 20 minutes he was persuading me to send my application for an extended deadline for that fall. As soon as I returned to Colorado, I rushed my application and was accepted the next week. I was fortunate at the University of Montana to have many supportive professors from whom I learned a great deal about teaching and research. I worked with Dr. Frances Hill on my dissertation who I consider to be both a mentor and dear friend. It is through her honesty, gentle encouragement and support that I am doing something I truly enjoy doing: teaching.

Teaching Philosophy

Although I believe that part of a professor’s job is to instruct students and give them basic knowledge, a much larger part of the job is encouraging students to take an active role in their own learning. By being enthusiastic about psychology and education in general, I try to motivate students and stimulate their natural desire to learn. To achieve this goal, I try to teach students to apply the material in their own lives and become good critical consumers of information.

I believe that education is not something that can be handed to students during the course of their college careers. Education is an active process that requires commitment from both student and professor. Ultimately, students need to be responsible for their own learning and professors encourage and challenge them to grow.  It is important to me that my students to be able to critically examine information they encounter after they leave college and to use their education to formulate thoughtful opinions, make informed decisions and be productive citizens in the future.