Faculty in the Spotlight with Christine Fitzgerald

Christine Fitzgerald For over 30 years, Professor Christine Fitzgerald has served as a cornerstone at Webster Leiden. The New York native and Columbia University alumna relocated to the Netherlands in the 1980s after falling in love with a Dutch gentleman.
“Back then I was working for a commercial bank on Wall Street,” she said. “I was doing research and I worked in strategic long-term planning. During that, I did my graduate degree in Developmental Psychology. I loved it. Right afterwards, I made the move to Holland and began looking for work.”

During a visit with her husband to the Netherlands in 1984, she first noticed the university. She started teaching at Webster Leiden the following year.

“I was in the right place at the right so I’ve been here pretty much from the beginning,” Professor Fitzgerald said. “I kind of grew up at Webster Leiden. I came to the Netherlands as a young gal, fresh out of my graduate program, and it became my second home.”

In the years that followed, Professor Fitzgerald served as the Chair of Psychology twice and helped develop the program.

“When I started here, Psychology wasn’t even a major,” she said. “I was passionate about the topic and teaching a lot of courses. Then the program started to grow. I met with the director at the time, Jim Evans, and I said, ‘We have enough students. We should have a Psychology major.’”

Professor Fitzgerald eventually decided that administrative work wasn’t for her and shifted her focus back to the lectern. She currently teaches classes for both the Business and Management and Behavioral and Social Sciences programs. During this semester, she’s taken on a full course load that includes Forensic Psychology, Stress Management, the Senior Overview for Psychology and Positive Psychology.

“In Stress Management, students learn the triggers of stress,” she said. “Where it comes from and how stress isn’t actual events. Instead, it’s our responses to them. With a lot of those events, we have control over our responses. We spend a lot of time looking at cognitive restructuring in the class. We do meditation, focus on mindfulness and the students love it.”

Her Business and Management courses, which she currently teaches annually, include two master’s classes: Organizational Behavior and Emotional Intelligence.

“I love the Organizational Behavior course,” Professor Fitzgerald said. “We examine the behaviors that contribute to thriving, innovative, productive and sustainable organizations. I ask the students to put on their ‘psychology hats’ during the class and really start to understand behavior because it can seriously impact businesses.”

Professor Fitzgerald’s students aren’t just future psychologists and business leaders. During her time at Webster Leiden, she’s taught a wide array of people from all walks of life.

“In one class, I had a ballet dancer, a physciatrist and a pharmacist,” she said. “They wanted to hone their skill sets so they could widen their professions. Other students have been from the arts, engineering and the sciences. We’ve even had people from space programs and politicians come in and take courses here.”