Major Gift from UNCW Alumnus and the Oaklawn Foundation Provides $200,000 to Support Psychology Programs

Monday, October 05, 2020

Joe Paight ’83 has made a $200,000 gift to the Department of Psychology to support student scholarships and the department’s General Psychotherapy & Assessment Clinic, which opened in fall 2019 on St. James Drive in Wilmington. The gift, through the Oaklawn Foundation, will be made over five years and builds upon Paight’s history of giving back to the university that sparked his passion for psychology.

“The Oaklawn Foundation gift will be transformative for our clinic and doctoral program,” said Julian Keith, chair of the psychology department. “It will allow us to offer affordable psychological services to the local community while providing clinical opportunities for doctoral student clinicians. The gift provides the resources to restructure the clinical training trajectory of our doctoral program by allowing for an earlier introduction to the clinic.”

Students will start to provide screening assessments in the summer of their first year and therapy services in their second year, offering students their first clinical experience with patients, Keith said.

Paight is an alumnus of the UNCW psychology program who has been giving to his alma mater through his family foundation since 2010. He is a psychologist in the Hillsborough County, FL, public schools, has a private practice, and provides competency analysis for the local public defender’s office and the courts. He said he was excited that the clinic benefits both students and the community.

“Through my work as a psychologist, I know the incredible need our school campuses have in the way of providing mental health resources,” said Paight. “The opening of the counseling clinic is just awesome. It provides practical experience to graduate and doctoral students and psychological services to students and the public.”

The clinic is open to the public and the campus community for treatment of a variety of conditions, including anxiety, depression, trauma, stress, compulsive disorders, adjustment issues and interpersonal difficulties. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, the clinic has been offering telehealth services free of charge.

Paight’s gift also increases support for the annual Oaklawn Foundation Scholarship in Psychology, a two-year award that has benefited a number of undergraduate students pursuing a psychology major.

“I am so incredibly thankful for Dr. Paight and his donation that funded me through my last two years of my undergraduate education,” said Lillith Camp ’20, the 2018-19/2019-20 scholarship recipient. “I worked two jobs to help pay for school and additional living expenses, but the scholarship enabled me to work less and focus more on my courses. I just began a clinical psychology Ph.D. program at Idaho State University, and I don’t know if I would be here if I had not received the scholarship.”

As a student at UNCW, Paight was drawn to psychology and sociology courses and graduated with a degree in psychology. He also was a walk-on player for the men’s soccer team which, he recalls, traveled to away games on “an ancient bus lovingly referred to as ‘the dying duck.’” After graduation, he spent 18 years in sales and marketing but eventually returned to school to earn his doctorate.

Since 2014, Paight has been a member of the Wilmington Society, a recognition of significant lifetime giving to the university.

“Dr. Paight’s contributions to the Department of Psychology over the years have been generous and remarkable,” said Rich Ogle, interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and a psychology faculty member. “The current gift allows the department to provide opportunities for students to receive cutting-edge training in clinical psychology toward the ultimate goal of becoming practicing mental health providers serving our community, region and beyond.”

-- Tricia Vance

Lillith Camp '20
Lillith Camp '20 is a recent recipient of the Oaklawn Foundation
Scholarship in Psychology.