Isiaah Crawford expects to draw on his experience as a clinical psychologist in leading the University of Puget Sound, a 128-year-old private liberal arts university.

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The next president of the University of Puget Sound is a clinical psychologist who expects to draw on his training to guide the university.

Isiaah Crawford, now provost at Seattle University, received his bachelor’s degree in clinical psychology from St. Louis University, and master’s and doctoral degrees from DePaul University in Chicago. He maintained a private clinical practice in Chicago from 1987 through 2002.

“It’s a good investment to meet with people and ask questions,” said Crawford. “Being a good, active listener has served me well.” Or, as one of his mentors once told him: “It’s hard to listen your way into trouble.”

He said he was drawn to the UPS job because it’s not only one of the state’s top liberal-arts universities, it’s also focused on students’ personal and social development — on making them good citizens of the world. Earlier this year, UPS was ranked first in the small-college category (tied with Gonzaga University) for sending the most volunteers to work overseas in the Peace Corps.

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The university has made some changes in recent years to broaden the types of students it serves, Crawford noted. It no longer requires that applicants submit standardized test scores, a move designed to broaden the applicant pool. It has promised to fully meet the financial needs of Tacoma public school students who gain entry to the college. And it recently joined with the Posse Foundation, a national nonprofit, to admit more public high-school students with academic and leadership potential who may be overlooked during the college selection process.

Crawford said Seattle University shares many of those same values. He’s been closely involved with the Seattle University Youth Initiative, which provides educational support to the community that surrounds the First Hill university.

UPS is a small school, with an enrollment of just 2,600 students. It was founded in 1888 by the Methodist Episcopal Church, although it is now a secular school. Crawford will become the school’s first African American president, as well as its first gay president.

He said he is “very proud of UPS for being open to my candidacy,” and said it reflects national progress in shattering some long-established barriers. Crawford will begin the job in July, taking over from Ronald Thomas, who has been its president for the past 13 years.