Founding Members and Early Trailblazers of the Department

Alice Wagstaff-Verostko, PhD

Dr. Wagstaff-Verostko was born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1919. Following graduation from Holy Rosary Academy in 1937, she received a scholarship to attend Spalding University, which was then known as Nazareth College. Following graduation in 1941, she taught school for a year. The war effort (WWII) led her to be the first woman to ever run the "stills" at Seagram. After the War, night classes supported by Seagrams opened new horizons in both the arts and sciences. She was drawn to the University of Chicago, where she was introduced to a world of ideas and possibilities.

During her graduate studies at the University of Chicago, Dr. Wagstaff-Verostko served as a teaching assistant, intern, counselor, and research associate under Carl Rogers (1902 - 1987). Those years, 1953-60, under the influence of Rogers, marked a phenomenal growth in client-centered therapy. By 1960 her experience as a therapist and Research Associate earned her an invitation to the faculty at Duquesne University's Psychology Department. As Chairman of the Department of Psychology from 1962 to 1967, she participated in establishing the program's unique approach to existential psychology. She laid the foundation for the Duquesne Psychology Counseling Center that served as a model for others, and became its director.  From her training with Rogers, she brought a distinct humanistic and client-centered approach to the clinical training at Duquesne. Under her warm and inspirational direction, the Duquesne Psychology Counseling Center grew and rapidly flourished. From its inception, the Counseling Center was considered an integral part of the department. Dr. Wagstaff-Verostko helped set up its structure in the department as the optimal means to implement its triple function of service to the University, training for clinical students and research in psychotherapy and personality.  

Dr. Wagstaff-Verostko served as Director of the Duquesne Counseling Center until 1968. That year, she left Duquesne University and moved to Minneapolis to teach at the University of Minnesota. Later, she took a position as a senior clinical psychologist at the Ramsey County Mental Health Clinic where she served for 18 years (1971-1989). She also conducted graduate seminars for five years at the Minnesota School for Professional Psychology. Following her retirement from Ramsey she continued a private practice at her home office until 2003. In addition, Dr. Wagstaff-Verostko was active with the Minnesota Sandplay Therapy Group and served on its board of directors. Her interest in educating women led her to serve in various roles with the Minneapolis branch of the American Association of University Women. She served on the scholarship committee and was especially proud of their scholarship program for young women.

Dr. Wagstaff-Verokstko passed away in 2009. Her husband wrote a lovely obituary about the details of her life, from which this biography has been crafted.