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Published:

April 19, 2012
 
Tagged: Derner School of Psychology

A Mentor Moves On: Professor Patrick L. Ross Retires from Adelphi

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Longtime Professor and former Associate Dean Patrick L. Ross will retire from Adelphi’s Gordon F. Derner Institute of Psychological Studies at the end of this year. His legacy lives on in the nearly 1,000 Derner alumni whom he taught and mentored. In a poignant essay, first published in the Winter 2007 issue of Derner News, Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus George Stricker offers a fond profile of his friend and colleague.

In honor of Dr. Ross’s devotion to graduate education, Adelphi has established the Patrick L. Ross Fellowship, an endowed fund that will provide four years of financial assistance to a Derner Ph.D. candidate. With the generous support of alumni and friends, the fellowship endowment is just shy of $145,000. An anonymous donor has magnanimously offered to add an additional $50,000 if the endowment grows to $200,000 by May 2012. Please visit giving.adelphi.edu/patrossfund to make your gift easily and securely today. You can also reach Major Gifts Officer Erin Gayron in the Office of University Advancement at 516.877.3475 for more information.

Please join us on Sunday, April 29, 2012 from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Sunset Terrace at Chelsea Piers to celebrate Dr. Ross’ 45 years at Derner and his upcoming retirement. For more information, contact Janet Baronian, executive assistant to the dean, at baronian@adelphi.edu or 516.877.4801.


Patrick Leith Ross: A Profile

By George Stricker

I first met Pat in 1962 when we both were living in Baltimore, me as a brand new faculty member at Goucher College and he as a graduate student at Johns Hopkins University. My wife and I had been invited to a party by a colleague who, truth to tell, we didn’t care for at all, and we went rather reluctantly. Pat and his wife Stephanie were also invited, as they had known the hostess in Toronto. We eyed them warily, feeling that any friend of the hostess surely couldn’t be a friend of ours. Fortunately, my wife has good manners and began to speak to them. Gradually, we discovered that they were eyeing us warily as well, and for the same reason, as they didn’t like the hostess either. We now had found common ground in a common enemy, and the rest is history. We saw each other frequently after that evening, and by the time I left for Adelphi, in 1963, we were best friends.

When I came to Adelphi, it was to join a clinical psychology program in a Department of Psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences. Although the program, under Gordon Derner’s leadership, was quite innovative, the administrative structure was very traditional. There was a good deal of friction within programs in the department that were going in opposite directions and, in 1966, the clinical program was restructured as the Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies and made into a separate program within the College of Arts and Sciences. The only faculty members moving to the new unit were clinical psychologists and, to have a good program, we needed a more broadly trained group of psychologists so that we could teach a complete curriculum. This meant a job search and I immediately thought of Pat, who joined the faculty in the new Institute. Pat now is the person on the faculty who has been at Adelphi the longest, and is the only person who has been there for the entire existence of the Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies.

Initially, Pat taught a variety of courses, including a statistics course that was jointly offered to graduate students from the old department of psychology as well as a seminar in perception, his original area of training. Over the years, he has taught in the undergraduate college and in the Schools of Social Work and Nursing. However, his main responsibility, then and now, was the legendary Introductory Statistics course given to Institute (now Derner) graduate students. It is unusual for faculty members to know very much about what is happening in the courses taught by any of our colleagues, but we all knew at least a little of what was happening in this course. I always have been comfortable with statistics, am familiar with a range of data analytic procedures, and even knew, from my friendship with Pat, something of the Lake of Bays and Jack Clayton. However, I’m still not quite sure what a shoal is, whether it produces more fish than a crib, and, in fact, what a crib is either. Those are concepts that have been mastered by every graduate student who has gone through the program. They have learned that there is a practical side to Pat’s knowledge of statistics, something that many fish and poker players (another variety of fish) also have learned. Pat the master statistician even more is a master fisherman.

Over the years, Pat progressed through the usual steps for a good faculty member, being promoted to associate professor in 1973 and professor in 1980. His research moved away from perception, an area that required more equipment and laboratory space than could be supported, and instead made connections at Meadowbrook Hospital (now Nassau County Medical Center), where his statistical expertise supported the research of generations of physicians. Regardless of where his research and publications were based, however, his heart remained at Adelphi, and particularly with the generations of students who grew to rely on his statistical knowledge and basic humanity. He could hardly be on every doctoral student’s committee, but it was the rare student who didn’t drop in for a consultation (and the rare faculty member who didn’t suggest that the student do so). Several faculty members also sought Pat out for statistical consultation, and both students and faculty knew his generosity with his time and knowledge.

A major change in Pat’s relationship to the Institute occurred after Gordon Derner’s death (and the renaming of the Institute to the present Derner Institute). I became dean in 1984, and my first official act was to appoint Pat as associate dean. My decision was an easy one; Pat is very bright, easily able to do the work involved, and unfailingly loyal and trustworthy. I relied on him for many different tasks, as did Bob Mendelsohn and Lou Primavera after me. The job of the associate dean changes markedly according to the needs and wishes of the dean, but Pat adjusted to the varying demands and was equally relied upon and loyal to all the deans under whom he has served. Currently his title has changed, but as special assistant to the dean he is doing much the same job he always has, and with the same good humor and talent.

One job that the associate dean does, and did regardless of the person who was dean, is to take charge of the admissions process. I suspect that if Pat were told that he only could do one thing, his choice would be to continue with the admissions process. In that role, he becomes the public face of the Institute, the link between the program and the applicants, and for most of the students, Pat was their first connection to the Institute. He has a knack for connecting with the applicants, speaking to them frankly and honestly, and by doing so, making the Institute appear as the choice that any reasonable person would make. Even though the applicants begin in fear of the dreaded Adelphi interview, they learn through their contact with Pat that the Institute is a place where human beings reside, and where it is possible to be happy and productive. It also is noteworthy that Pat is not simply a salesman; once the students arrive, they find that he is as interested in their welfare as he was when they were applicants. I am sure that generations of students came to Adelphi because of Pat, and were rewarded by the opportunity to work with and know him.

This piece appeared in the Derner eNews Spring 2012 edition.
 
Tagged: Derner School of Psychology