James Madison University

O. Ashton Trice Memorial Scholarship Founded

PHOTO: O. Ashton TriceThis memorial scholarship is open to all School Psychology students and is awarded to the student with the highest GPA and exceptional academic performance, honoring the intent of the donor. The scholarship winner will be announced annually in October for the following summer term.

O. Ashton Trice, Jr. was born in the small town of Howardsville, in Albemarle County, Virginia, on March 19, 1920, the sixth of nine children. He attended a one-room schoolhouse about a mile away from the farm, often on horseback. He then went to Scottsville High School, where he was valedictorian and captain of the baseball team. At the end of high school, he turned down a scholarship to the University of Virginia to sign a developmental contract with the Cincinnati Reds. His brother Lawrence, already with the Reds, came to town during the summer and convinced him that UVa was a better option. His scholarship required him to tutor the football team in science and mathematics. He received a bachelor's degree in chemistry in 1941, taking, as his one free elective, general psychology, because it fit his schedule.

He served as a Lieutenant in the Navy during World War II. While he did not see combat, he worked on improvements in radar; took a seminar with Einstein; piloted patrols off the California Coast; taught machine gunnery; and was stationed for several months in Honolulu without orders, where he learn to play tennis and type.

After the war, he returned to Charlottesville and completed his M.A. in 1949 and his Ph.D. in 1951, both in experimental psychology. While at the University he worked with former GIs who were experiencing both academic and mental health issues. He received an offer to teach at Princeton in 1949, but his advisor recommended that the complete his dissertation first, so he accepted a one year appointment at Mary Baldwin College, where he remained for 37 years. For his first 19 years there, every student at the college took his introduction to psychology course during her sophomore year. In the early years, he taught the entire psychology major, as he was the only member of the department.

Dr. Trice became involved in local mental health facilities in 1950, as a researcher at Western State Hospital in the national effort to evaluate the effectiveness of prefrontal lobotomies. He stayed on as a staff psychologist throughout the 1950s and then was affiliated with the DeJarnette Hospital in the 1960s and 1970s. He worked with spinal cord injured patients at Woodrow Wilson Rehabilitation Center. He was involved in setting up the Head Start programs in Bath and Highland Counties.

He began his career as a school psychologist in 1956, working in the Waynesboro Public Schools on Tuesdays and Thursdays, while teaching at Mary Baldwin on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. While he supported PL 94-142, he felt that the new law would change the profession of school psychology into an assessment specialist, and so, in 1978, after training the Waynesboro staff for their new roles under the new law, he retired from school psychology. After his retirement from Mary Baldwin in 1986, he devoted himself for ten years to the daily care of his wife who had Parkinson's Disease. He died on October 11, 2010.

Dr. Trice went though graduate school at a time when most students were fully funded. He always contributed generously to his alma mater, often saying that he had gotten ten years of education and three degrees there for free. The O. Ashton Trice scholarship was established to assist an academically outstanding student in the school psychology program at James Madison with his or her second year summer tuition. Additional contributions would allow the endowment to keep up with rising tuition costs and expand the award to more students. Contributions can be made through the JMU Foundation to the O. Ashton Trice Scholarship Endowment.