Robert M. Stutz

Professor Robert Stutz traces his academic lineage back to the very roots of scientific psychology in 19th Century Germany.

  • Bob was a doctoral student of David Asdourian at Wayne State University
  • Asdourian was a doctoral student of P.T. Young at Illinois
  • Young was a doctoral student of E. B. Titchener at Cornell and
  • Titchener earned one of the first doctoral degrees in Psychology with the founder of the discipline, Wilhelm Wundt at the Univ. of Leipzig in Germany

Therefore, it should come as no surprise that Bob's early career focused on a biologically-oriented brand of psychology called physiological psychology. After all, Wundt's seminal book that launched the discipline of modern psychology was entitled Principles of Physiological Psychology. Like Wundt, Bob's doctoral research was pioneering and contributed to the emergence of a new discipline in the early 1970s- the field of neuroscience.

Bob was born and raised in Detroit, where his father owned a restaurant. It was a neighborhood kind of place that did a brisk lunch business, and there is no doubt in my mind that Bob's business acumen and people skills have their roots in his experiences related to the family's business. Bob stayed close to home for his education, earning his bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees from Wayne State. He finished his doctoral studies at the tender age of 26. Despite his youth, Bob's innovative research on the biology of motivation and reward made him an attractive candidate for faculty positions. So attractive that he had (literally) 10 job offers in 1966 when he finished his doctoral studies. Fortunately for UC, he accepted a position of assistant professor of psychology in the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences.

Within his first few years at UC, Bob was awarded four grants for his work from NIH and NSF, and his research was attracting international attention. As he used to tell me, "I'm world famous in Belgium." In addition to his animal work on the biology of reward and addiction, he was collaborating with colleagues on projects related to human clinical assessment and treatment. Just nine years after his arrival, in 1975, Bob was promoted to full professor. Later in his career, his research focused on psychological assessment and evaluation research, working with numerous colleagues and students from UC and the surrounding community.

Throughout Bob's career, he was a very popular teacher and outstanding mentor. Students flocked to his courses and sought him out as an advisor. He supervised 57 master's theses and 64 doctoral dissertations over his 46 years as a faculty member at UC! He has had an enormous impact on the careers of many, many people. As a former student, I can share Bob's secret. He is totally devoted to the professional development of his students. Bob is one of the most generous people I know. His invaluable advice, patience and help have contributed substantially to the success of numerous students and colleagues for almost half a century.

I will always remember Bob best from his time as head of the Psychology Department. He served in this role for 18 years- from 1981 to 1999. It is indeed one of the tragedies of timing that Bob was not department head during the era of performance based budgeting. His insights into university fiscal and accounting practices and creative budget schemes could be used to fullest advantage in the current environment. Bob was always looking to "innovate" with new approaches and programs that would better fund the department and its activities. Some of these initiatives included a department clinic, the development of departmental research foci, psychology instruction at the branch campuses, a graduate program in the Caribbean, and a "for profit" course in human sexuality. Bob also innovated with respect to technology. He was an early adopter of electronic spreadsheets and departmental email, and Psychology was the first A&S department to provide computers to all faculty members. As a result of Bob's efforts, faculty had the resources they needed to push forward their scholarly work even during lean times.

I would be completely remiss if I did not mention Bob's sense of humor- the most distinctive component of his personality. Many of us were sustained for years by his wit and deeply satisfying sarcasm. His humor was an antidote for much of the self-serving hubris that is all too common among some academics. Bob had a gift for bringing us all back to reality with a quip that struck at the core of the matter- often with a little Yiddish thrown in. I remember one exchange about placing limits on the budget for faculty copying of articles and books. A senior colleague referred to the new policy as draconian. Bob replied, with his typical, sheepish smile, "I don't know from draconian, but I do know dreck." For those of you who are not fluent, dreck is a Yiddish term for waste or excrement.

After 46 years at UC, how will we remember Bob Stutz? We will remember him well!