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Obituaries

William A. Owens, Jr. (19142005)


by Paul W. Thayer and Frank W. Erwin

William A. Owens, Jr. died after a long illness on September 28, 2005 in Athens, Georgia at the age of 91. He was a scientist, teacher, mentor, administrator, consultant, golf and tennis enthusiast, fishing guide, husband, father, gentleman, and gentle man. 

Bill was born in Duluth, Minnesota and majored in mathematics at Winona State University in Minnesota where his father was the first chair of the Psychology Department. He earned his doctorate in psychology from the University of Minnesota under the guidance of Donald G. Paterson. His major was differential psychology, with minors in statistics and counseling. 

Bill then took a position in the Psychology Department at Iowa State University in 1940 but left there to enlist in the Navy after Pearl Harbor was attacked. He was assigned to the Bureau of Naval Personnel where he worked on test construction, selection, and classification and began his career as an industrial psychologist. 

When the war ended, Bill returned to Iowa State where he rose to full professor and head of the Psychology Department. His many masters students there included such later notables as Dave Campbell, John Campbell, Jay Uhlaner, Bob Boldt, Bob Morrison, Jack Larsen, and Paul Wernimont. 

After 13 years at Iowa State, he went to Purdue, and in 1968, he moved to the University of Georgia to start a program in measurement and human differences. He subsequently became director of the Institute for Behavioral Research and split his time between teaching, research, and administration. He also took the post of acting provost for a year and helped reorganize the higher levels of administration at the university. His contributions as a teacher, researcher, and mentor were recognized with the title University Professor and the naming of the highest award for scholarship in behavioral sciences as the William A. Owens Scholarly Achievement Award. He retired in 1984 at age 70. 

Bills close relationship with his students was and still is characterized by their affectionate nickname for him, Doc. (This started at a time when one addressed all faculty members as Doctor or Professor.) He gave them support and independence. He encouraged creativity and congeniality. He was thoughtful, stimulating, and kind. As the old saying goes, he did as much good as he could, for as many as he could, for as long as he could. 

Over 80 articles, books, and chapters, as well as seven tests mark his outstanding research career. His research touched on other areas of psychology besides industrial and organizational, including two longitudinal studies of intelligence and aging that contradicted some of the findings of cross-sectional studies. He is best known for his work on biodata, much of which was supported by grants from the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development over a period of 18 years. Colleagues included Lyle Schoenfeldt, Jim Ledvinka, Bill Love, Garnett Stokes, and Mike Mumford. Personality theorists, developmental, differential, educational, and I-O psychologists can benefit from a careful examination of the theoretical structure he developed with his colleagues and the exciting insights his research revealed.

He did extensive consulting, often to provide support for students, and worked frequently with the firm of Richardson, Bellows, and Henry, where his colleagues included Ed Henry, Paul Sparks, Marion Richardson, and Frank Erwin. 

Bill was president of SIOP when we changed from industrial to industrial and organizational, and he was winner of SIOPs Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award. He believed he benefitted greatly from his membership and participation in SIOP, so much so that he and his wife Barbara funded the William A. Owens Scholarly Achievement Award that annually recognizes the best publication in I-O psychology. Indeed, their desire to contribute to the Society resulted in the formation of the SIOP Foundation, which permits tax-deductible gifts to support I-O science and practice.

Bill and Barbara were married in 1941 and had a son, Scott, who predeceased him. Through their more than 60 years together, their relationship was a model of constant love, warmth, and sharing. Through all the years of Bills increasing weakness, and on every day, Barbara was at his side.

Those who shared their lives with him knew we had been given a special gift. We were fortunate to know this great and humble man, and we will not forget him.

Nambury Raju (19372005)

by M. Ellen Mitchell, Institute of Psychology

The faculty, students, and alumni of the Institute of Psychology are deeply sadden to receive the news that Nambury Raju, Distinguished Professor of Psychology, died suddenly on Thursday October 27, 2005. He graduated with a PhD from IIT in 1974 and joined the faculty in 1978 after having worked for Science Research Associates (SRA) from 19611978. He touched the lives of many within the university community, industry, his community, and professional societies and was known as a world-class scholar, mentor, and friend.

Dr. Raju joined the IIT psychology faculty in 1978 as an assistant professor and was promoted to associate professor and full professor on the basis of his superlative work in the area of selection, psychometric theory, and test development. In 1993, he went to Georgia Tech as full professor of psychology and then returned to IIT in 1996 where he was named Distinguished Professor and Senior Scientific Advisor of the IIT Center for Research and Service. Author of over 150 publications and presentations, member of more than eight professional organizations, and editor or reviewer for more than 24 professional journals, Dr. Rajus work contributed substantially to the development of methods to evaluate and reduce bias in tests used in employment and educational settings. He served on the Department of Defense Advisory Committee on Military Personnel Testing from 1989 to 1992, and on the National Academy of Sciences Committee charged with evaluating the National Assessment of Educational Progress from 1996 to 1998. 

The excellence of Dr. Rajus work has been recognized by the American Psychological Association Division of Evaluation and Measurement and the Society of Industrial and Organizational Psychology where he was honored as Fellow. He received the Outstanding Achievement Award from the IIT I-O graduate students and the Lewis College Excellence in Teaching award. He supervised over 35 doctoral dissertations and 20 masters theses and was held in the highest personal and professional regard by all for his warm heart, strong intellect, and unflagging integrity. He is survived by his wife of 40 years, Marijke, his two daughters Indira and Saroja, and his 2 grandchildren, Colin age 4 and Marijke age 2. The family has asked that any donations be directed to the I-O Faculty Endowment, IIT Institute of Psychology, 252LS, 3101 S. Dearborn, Chicago, IL 60616. This endowment will be named in his honor. 

The family address is Raju Family at 8220 Ridgepointe Dr., Burr Ridge, IL 60527.

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