January 20, 2014

Faculty ‘Delighted’ to Welcome New Professor to College of Human Ecology

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A psychologist who served as the University of Wyoming’s president for just 137 days will join the College of Human Ecology’s faculty on Feb. 1.

Robert J. Sternberg will teach in the Department of Human Development, the University announced last week.

“Bob is one of the top psychologists in the nation, and I am delighted he is joining the faculty,” said Alan Mathios, dean of the College of Human Ecology. “He fits human development like a glove.”

Sternberg said he is “especially excited” to come to Cornell because his research parallels much of the work conducted by Urie Bronfenbrenner ’38, a former Cornell professor and globally renowned developmental psychologist.

“Cornell has a long tradition of excellence in general and of excellence in human development in particular,” Sternberg added.

After earning his bachelors degree from Yale University and his Ph.D. in psychology from Stanford University, Sternberg was a professor of psychology and education at Yale for 30 years. He also served as the dean of Arts and Sciences at Tufts University, provost at Oklahoma State University, and most recently, the president of the University of Wyoming.

Strenberg attributed the brevity of his stint as the University of Wyoming’s president to his realizing that his goals did not match up with those of his fellow administrators.

“U.W. deserves a president that shares its goals, and I needed to be an educational leader in a university that shared my goals. It is simply a matter of fit –– I did not fit there. When I went to U.W., I did not know people there. I have no doubt about my fit at Cornell, where I know many people,” Sternberg said.

In addition to teaching psychology for several decades, Sternberg is an author or co-author of more than 1,500 publications and the principal investigator of grants totaling more than $20 million, according to a University press release. Throughout it all, Sternberg says he remained devoted to teaching students.

“I never left teaching. I have taught every year I was an administrator –– either an undergraduate course on the nature of leadership or a graduate course on the nature of intelligence,” Sternberg said.

Sternberg said his work is closely aligned with that of other professors in the department he is joining, including Prof. Steve Ceci, human development, and Prof. Wendy Williams, human development.

“He will also expand the strength in psychology at Cornell,” Mathios said.