Here are 483 retirement messages from some of your colleagues:
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Just a word of deep thanks for your efforts to make this a more just, safer, and less violent world. I hope retirement means a chance to keep involved with Psychologists for Social Responibility, who are doing some great work.
Saybrook Graduate School
Thanks for everything, Phil! I remember your visit to the University of Iowa when I was a graduate student there as if it was yesterday (instead of about 30 years ago). Best wishes for a happy and active retirement.
It feels strange to choose the "professional colleague" category for this. To me you’ve always been a teacher (in the classroom and out), a mentor, a storyteller, and a friend.
I started on the road to social psychology in your Intro class; by the time I was in your Psychology & Drama class, I was hooked. You so clearly demonstrate how fascinating psychology is, and you captivate a wide range of people.
My parents attended one of your talks on Time Perspective. It included a story about a hippy who was hitchhiking in the 1960s. A driver picked him up and asked where he was going. The hippy replied, "South." The driver asked several more times and always received the same answer: "I’m just going south, man." You used this as an example of a particular time perspective. The hippy didn't have a goal as to exactly where he wanted to be in the near future as long as he was going south. My parents said that the story helped them understand some of the 60s more than anything else ever had. They talk about that experience to this day.
You've always been extremely generous with your time, despite the many demands on it. While I was in grad school, you extended a visit to Columbus so that you could meet with OSU grad students. We loved hearing stories about the field, and the amusing tales of your own grad school days were priceless. I was touched that you would take time just to chat with us.
My favorite memory (of many) is of the SESP conference at OSU during my first year there. My classmates and I were wide-eyed at the sight of so many prominent psychologists. A fellow 1st year student and I were thrilled to be assigned to pick you up at the hotel. You invited us to join you for the free breakfast offered on your floor of the hotel. We both felt very flattered -- here we were, two 1st years, having breakfast with Phil Zimbardo! When we finished, you asked if we wanted one of the free oranges in the breakfast room. We said no, and you immediately said, "Oh, come on, take a few. You're graduate students, you don't have much money, and you can always use food." We thought it was fabulous that such a well-known person was protective of us and hilarious that you encouraged us to fill our pockets with free fruit. The oranges were good (yes, we did take some), but not nearly as good as the memory of how we got them!
I've wondered at times if you’d remember me -- you must have hundreds of former students that you rarely see. You remember us anyway, which is just one way you make people feel truly special. And that, more than all of your other amazing accomplishments, is what makes you so special.
Best wishes on your retirement. Although future students won't have the same experiences that I had in the classroom, I know that you'll be continuing to contribute to the field of psychology in countless ways. And I know that others will still be lucky enough to know you as a teacher, a mentor, a storyteller, and a friend.
Thanks for everything!
University of Houston
Thank you for the inspiration to teach high school psychology. Your texts, articles and videos are part of the framework of my courses. I am now on my 20th year of teaching psychology -- and continue to enjoy it more every year. I wish you a contented and happy retirement -- what makes me think that you'll find it difficult not to do what you do so well?! Best wishes.
RHAM High School
I know this "retirement" must be something of an overstatement as you are the least retired person I know. Being in a room with you, witnessing your energy full force, is more fun than a large Peet's coffee: very stimulating and fun but exhausting. Fortunately, your tremendous enthusiasm for psychology is matched by your tremendous kindness. Hearing you lecture or talking with you are the total engagement of mind and heart. Sharing one of your wonderful meals completes the experience of loving stimulation. Thank you for inviting me into your family.
Despite Lee's insistence that there is no such thing as
personality, there's no doubt that your colleagues and friends know you to be a distinctively important person. Your kindness to all tempers the difficulties of competitive environments. The vigor and imagination you bring to teaching has changed the way psychology is taught around the world. As Lee used to say, "Phil needs to teach like the rest of us need oxygen." Personally I am very grateful to you (as are, unknowingly, my students) for inspiring me to use my imagination to engage them actively in learning social psychology.
Perhaps my most Phil-esque lecture follows presentations on Milgram's obedience experiments, the Stanford prison experiment, Cialdini's social influence techniques and persuasion: I wear a black suit and red satin blouse and rather blandly ask students to use all they know about social persuasion to entice third-world children to start smoking cigarettes. With the barest coaxing they become imaginative on their evil task, some so engrossed that they hardly notice when my red forked tail falls out or when my red horns appear. The experience rather than the abstract lesson is not soon lost on them. This of course is your lesson: that you always have a choice, and you have to be aware that you have a choice.
Thank you, Phil, for choosing to give your life to psychology. What we know about everyday good and everyday evil, about deviance and deindividuation, about time perspective, and sharing reality, about ethical practice of science, and about giving psychology away, we owe to your work and to your inspiration.
And now, to go bedevil my students.
Congratulations and much love,
University of Connecticut
Thanks for all of your advocacy on behalf of students, your work advancing professional development in our field, your legendary contributions to psychological science, your unparalleled commitment to the "giving away of psychology," and most of all, for being an excellent role model!
Best wishes on your retirement!
Thanks for all you have done to support teachers of psychology.
Society for the Teaching of Psychology (APA Division 2)
Our timing was about as asynchronous as it gets. Still, at least our worlds crossed paths, and our lives found ways to overlap. I know you're not disappearing, so these are not goodbyes, but they are very best wishes to you on your retirement.
We are both part of that cohort of idealistic students who entered the field of social psychology after World War II determined to do something to improve the world. We were impressed with the possibility of a social psychology which would be both scientifically sound and socially relevant. The emphasis on scientism led many of our cohort to focus on clever, contrived experiments dealing with minutiae which bored our students. You led the way in devising studies which, without sacrificing scientific validity, still helped us understand and help solve important social issues of our day, and in that way captured the hearts and minds of a generation of young people. I hope that in your retirement you will still continue to offer guidance to all of us.
With warm regards and deep admiration,
University of California--Los Angeles
Don't go! I will really miss your insights, sense of humor, and enthusiasm for everything that I love about social psychology
Illinois State University
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