Lake­head out­lines ‘great year’ in an­nual re­port

Packet & Times (Orillia) - - FRONT PAGE - AN­DREW PHILIPS

Beth Visser wants to find out what makes some peo­ple com­mit un­speak­able acts.

Dur­ing Lake­head Univer­sity’s an­nual re­port to the com­mu­nity Fri­day at Hawk Ridge Golf and Coun­try Club, the psy­chol­ogy pro­fes­sor with the in­ter­dis­ci­plinary stud­ies depart­ment at the Oril­lia cam­pus dis­cussed her hopes of de­ter­min­ing what makes a psy­chopath tick and why cer­tain vic­tims are cho­sen over oth­ers.

“I don’t get when peo­ple just don’t care about oth­ers,” Visser said while speak­ing dur­ing the talk-show-for­mat event hosted by cam­pus prin­ci­pal Dean Jobin-Be­vans that also fea­tured Lake­head alumna Kait­lyn Wat­son.

Visser col­lab­o­rates with stu­dent re­searchers and col­leagues from other in­sti­tu­tions to un­der­stand the dark side of hu­man na­ture re­lat­ing to Machi­avel­lian ten­den­cies, nar­cis­sism and psy­chopa­thy.

Ear­lier this year, she and two coau­thors pub­lished an ar­ti­cle ti­tled “Is Hil­lary dis­hon­est and Don­ald nar­cis­sis­tic?” In it, they ex­plored the per­son­al­ity traits of the 2016 United States pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates’ pub­lic per­sonas.

“I can’t imag­ine not car­ing or em­pathiz­ing or feel­ing for oth­ers,” said Visser, who pointed out se­rial killer Ted Bundy noted he could spot a vic­tim by the toss of a shoul­der.

“I want to find out if that’s true. We’re look­ing at what con­sti­tutes vul­ner­a­bil­ity. We’re go­ing into prisons to work with psy­chopaths. We’re look­ing at their char­ac­ter­is­tics and traits.”

While Visser orig­i­nally set out to study why some peo­ple cheat and are of­ten de­cep­tive, she said an­other col­league helped foster a greater in­ter­est in ex­plor­ing the world of crim­i­nal­ity, with Jobin-Be­vans quip­ping: “That sounds like a great friend to have.”

Lake­head board of gov­er­nors chair David Tam­blyn opened the event with greet­ings and a weath­er­re­lated joke.

“It’s not very of­ten that our Oril­lia cam­pus looks more win­try than our Thun­der Bay cam­pus,” he said.

The an­nual of­fer­ing gives the school a chance to out­line the past year’s high­lights as well as pro­vide di­rec­tion to com­mu­nity mem­bers about where they’re headed in the fu­ture.

“We’ve had a great year,” Lake­head pres­i­dent and vice-chan­cel­lor Brian Steven­son said, not­ing the univer­sity con­tin­ues to make in­roads in Oril­lia and rep­re­sents an an­nual eco­nomic im­pact on the lo­cal GDP of $122.7 mil­lion. “We’re Canada’s No. 1 re­search univer­sity in our cat­e­gory for the third year in a row. It’s a ma­jor ac­com­plish­ment.”

As well, Steven­son said, the lo­cal cam­pus has con­tin­ued to at­tract more in­ter­na­tional stu­dents over the past seven-anda-half years, from fewer than 100 then to more than 1,000 now.

“What a great gift to be here in this beau­ti­ful cam­pus and won­der­ful com­mu­nity,” he said, adding the Huff­in­g­ton Post re­cently sang the school’s praises when it called it one of Canada’s best-kept se­crets.

“The year ahead is look­ing really great. This is your univer­sity; be very proud of it.”

AN­DREW PHILIPS/SPE­CIAL TO THE PACKET & TIMES

Kait­lyn Wat­son, Brian Steven­son, Beth Visser and Dean Jobin-Be­vans cel­e­brated Lake­head Univer­sity's ac­com­plish­ments dur­ing an event at Hawk Ridge Golf and Coun­try Club.

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