Robert J. Sternberg is University of Wyoming’s next president
On July 1, former APA President Robert J.
Sternberg, PhD, is tackling a new presidential
role: President of the University of Wyoming.
Best known in psychology for his research
on leadership, love, creativity and intelligence,
Sternberg was attracted to Wyoming because
it is a land-grant university — created to make
higher education more accessible to students
from diverse socioeconomic and cultural
“I really believe in the mission of land-
grant institutions, which is to develop ethical
leaders who are going to make a positive,
meaningful and enduring difference to the
world,” says Sternberg. “That’s what I think
education is all about.”
His top priorities will be working with
faculty and administrators to enhance how
the school nurtures tomorrow’s leaders and
making the school a place “where faculty also
can become world-class leaders in their fields,”
Sternberg, who is now provost and senior
vice president at Oklahoma State University,
as well as regents professor of psychology and
education, also plans to teach at Wyoming,
perhaps an undergraduate course on the
nature of leadership, he says.
“It is a chance to have contact with
students, to have fun teaching and to keep up
to date in the field,” says Sternberg. “It also
sends a message to students and faculty that
the administration not only values teaching,
but also does it.”
Sternberg says Wyoming felt like “a good
fit,” and his new colleagues agree.
“We are delighted to have not just a psychologist as president,
but someone with his stature,” says Carolyn M. Pepper, PhD,
chair of the University of Wyoming psychology department. “He
is prolific, and he has a reputation for being able to work well
with lots of different people and get things done.”
Sternberg earned his doctorate from Stanford University
in 1975 and holds 13 honorary doctorates. He taught at his
undergraduate alma mater, Yale University, for 30 years. A turn
as APA president in 2003 inspired him to be an administrator.
“As a professor, I felt frustrated that I had ideas for change
but could not see them implemented,” he says. “The APA
Dr. Robert J. Sternberg joins Wyoming on July 1.
presidency changed my life in that it convinced me that
psychology could be put to good use through academic
In 2005, he became dean of the School of Arts and Sciences
at Tufts University. He left Tufts in 2010 to join OSU as provost.
He and his wife, Karin, also a psychologist, have 2-year-old
triplets, who will have plenty of room to roam in the Cowboy
State. “It’s a great place to bring them up,” he says. “They are
already cowboys from being here in Oklahoma, so they are all
ready for it.”