Robbins endowment in Bahrick’s honor announced at Psychology reunion

Harry Bahrick, pictured at the Psychology Department’s 100th anniversary celebration Oct. 5, where President Rock Jones announced that Professor David Robbins, who died Sept. 30, had established an endowment in honor of his good friend and mentor. Dea DeWolff, wife of Robert Kail ’71, who gave an introduction for his former professor, applauds.

More than 100 former students and faculty members gathered on campus Oct. 5 to celebrate the Psychology Department’s 100th anniversary at Ohio Wesleyan and to honor two of its legends, who had more than 100 years of combined experience.

Harry Bahrick joined the department in 1949 and retired in 2006, remaining an emeritus member of the faculty and co-authoring a 2013 book with psychology Professor Lynda Hall and former associate professor of psychology Melinda Baker summarizing more than 50 years of research on maintenance of knowledge.

Bahrick established the Memory Lab during his illustrious tenure, funded by a succession of grants over 40 years. Most recently, he received the Association for Psychological Science’s Mentor Award, which recognizes psychology researchers and educators who have shaped the future direction of science by fostering the careers of students and colleagues.

David O. Robbins

One of those colleagues was David O. Robbins, who joined the department in 1973 and specialized in neuroscience; the neuroscience program was named in his honor in 2011. Robbins died Sept. 30, leaving an indelible mark on his department and OWU following his many roles within the administration (see Robbins’ obituary).

In reflecting on her late colleague at the reunion, Professor Vicki DiLillo noted how much he’d been looking forward to the evening. “David is in no small part the reason we are all here tonight,” DiLillo said. “I cannot overstate his contributions to the department and to the University.”

Beyond that, DiLillo noted: “David had the gift of hospitality. He relished opening his home to his students and his colleagues. Most of us here tonight had the pleasure of attending at least one Psychology Department picnic in his backyard.”

“While David’s absence tonight is palpable, I am certain that he would have wanted us to embrace this opportunity to reflect on our history, to connect with one another, and to celebrate the members of this community.”

In a testament to that community, in June, Robbins quietly established the Harry P. Bahrick Honors Tutorial Endowment with a gift to the Connect Today, Create Tomorrow campaign to honor his dear friend in perpetuity. The endowment will enhance the honors tutorial programs and educational experiences of honors students with support for their research, internships, or travel to conferences.

President Rock Jones announced Robbins’ gift, which was a surprise to most.

“The focus on my award was overwhelming for me,” said Bahrick. “David Robbins’ gift in my name tells so much more about him than about me. His death is a wrenching loss for me. His impact on OWU and all who had the privilege of knowing him is unforgettable, as is his huge contribution to all colleagues and to OWU.”

Video history of OWU’s Psychology Department

Giving to an endowment

Anyone can make a gift to the Harry P. Bahrick Honors Tutorial Endowment.

Robbins’ family suggested those who wish to may make a gift in his memory to the David O. and Janice S. Robbins Summer Science Research Endowment.

Visit and click “other” or call 740-368-3315.

Return to the Winter 2019 OWU Magazine