Murney Award Winner Announced


The Robert J. Murney Memorial Award  is named after Forest Institute’s Clinic Director, who built it into one of the largest mental health training clinics in the nation. When Dr. Murney assumed that role in 1985, he had already distinguished himself as a psychologist and a compassionate leader in the Springfield community. A native of Springfield who served on the USS Missouri during World War II, he decided to become a psychologist reflecting on the adjustment challenges faced by returning servicemen. He earned a B.S. in Psychology from St. Louis University, and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.. After his training was completed, he worked at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Perry Point, Maryland, and moving back to Springfield, set up a private practice and became Chief Psychologist at the United States Medical Center for Federal Prisoners. In 1962, Dr. Murney was elected as a fellow to the American Academy of Clinical Psychology and was awarded the prestigious designation of the American Board of Professional Psychologists (ABPP).

Dr. Murney enjoyed a 50 year career as a psychologist, and the Memorial Award is intended to acknowledge and honor his legacy. The Award is meant to recognize and reward a student,intern, or graduate who displays the following personal and professional characteristics of Dr. Murney:
1) Humility, openness, and self-reflection.
2) Mentoring.
3) Intellectual curiosity.

The recipient of the Robert J. Murney Memorial Award this year goes to Christopher Ward. This is always a difficult choice because Forest has so many promising graduates, but Dr. Murney believed in Forest proclaiming it "produces excellent psychologists.” He proved he meant it by hiring five Forest graduates in his private practice.


Chris Ward was born and raised in a small mountain town in northern Utah. He graduated from American Fork High School in 1997 and served a two year mission in Arizona for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Upon returning from the mission, he married his high school sweetheart, Alison, in 2001. After working in the financial field for seven years he decided to "shift gears” and pursue becoming a psychologist. In 2008 he graduated with his bachelor’s degree from Utah Valley University and immediately transitioned into his graduate studies at The School of Professional Psychology at Forest Institute. Upon admittance he quickly decided to pursue his master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy en route to a doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology. In 2012 he matched for his predoctoral internship at the University of Idaho. After successfully completing this requirement, he accepted a postdoctoral position at Arizona State University. He currently lives in Mesa, AZ with his wife, Alison, and four amazing children: Maci, Gavin, Delaney, and Jax. He loves the field of psychology and the opportunity he currently has to contribute to the ASU community.