American Psychological Association recognizes EC professor with lifetime achievement award | Earlham College Skip to Content
Pictured below: Katharine Milar, professor of psychology, has received a lifetime achievement award from the American Psychological Association.

American Psychological Association recognizes EC professor with lifetime achievement award

July 28, 2016

KathymProfessor of Psychology Katharine Milar has received a lifetime achievement award from the American Psychological Association’s (APA) Society for the History of Psychology.

Milar, a national expert on the history of women in experimental psychology, was recognized for making “sustained, outstanding, and unusual contributions to the history of psychology.”

Milar came to Earlham as an assistant professor in 1981 and has spent more than half of her life on campus teaching and serving as a mentor for student research.

As a young behavioral experimental psychologist on Earlham’s campus, Milar helped to reimagine the linkages between history and psychology in the curriculum.

 “At Earlham, I thought we needed to introduce a course that was more broadly historical than the existing course on Skinner & Freud,” Milar says. “The course I developed, ‘Psychology: Making of a Science,’ was a history of experimental psychology and also an introduction to research methods. It was a unique course.”

But the course had a notable omission. “A student asked me if there were women in experimental psychology and I didn’t know of any.”

Through Milar’s own research, and after successfully applying for a Faculty Open Fellowship through Eli Lilly and Company, she explored the stories of several first-generation women psychologists, including Helen Woolley, a 1905 graduate of Mount Holyoke College, her alma mater.

“The fellowship was an opportunity for mid-career faculty to move sideways in their discipline,” she says. “When my application was funded it changed my life. It was fantastic.”

Following the fellowship, which resulted in a yearlong sabbatical, Milar became active in both the APA’s Society for the History of Psychology (Division 26), and Cheiron, the International Society for the History of the Behavioral & Social Sciences.

As a one-time president of Division 26, Milar helped secure funding to endow the Mary Whiton Calkins lecture, which honors the APA’s first women president. This lecture series was established to serve as a forum for historical scholarship on under-represented groups in the history of psychology, such as women or ethnic minorities, or on alternative, marginalized perspectives on the history of psychology, such as Calkins’ own self psychology.  She also led an effort to change the division bylaws that added a student member to the division’s executive committee.

As the Heritage Chair of the Society of the Psychology of Women (Division 35), Milar also inaugurated a column, “Reclaiming Our Heritage,” in the division’s newsletter that featured biographical sketches of women in psychology (1993-2002).

From 2008-2010 she served on APA’s History Oversight Committee to advise the APA on historical matters and to increase awareness of the history of American Psychology among APA members and was chair during 2008. She is currently serving a second term on this committee.

Milar also edited a “time capsule” segment that became a monthly feature in the APA’s Monitor on Psychology (2009-15). The capsules offered brief glimpses into psychology’s past.

Milar is also a former treasurer (1998-2003) and executive officer (2008-13) for Cheiron.

 — EC —

Earlham College, a national liberal arts college located in Richmond, Indiana, is a "College That Changes Lives." We expect our students to be fully present: to think rigorously, value directness and genuineness, and actively seek insights from differing perspectives. The values we practice at Earlham are rooted in centuries of Quaker tradition, but they also constitute the ideal toolkit for contemporary success. Earlham is one of only 40 national liberal arts colleges ranked among U.S. News and World Reports' "Great Schools at a Great Price."

Brian Zimmerman is director of media relations at Earlham College. He can be reached at 765-983-1256 and zimmebr@earlham.edu.

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