Here are 483 retirement messages from some of your colleagues:

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Dear Phil,

You are the most simpatico, creative, "full of emotions" and preferite American professor I know. I have many memories about you, talking about psychology, eating your special Italian food, called by Lorenzo "ala Zimbardo," laughing, teasing, laying in the sun.... I remember once, on the occasion of my birthday (...this was July many years ago), you brought me to Ghirardelli and you ordered a huge ice cream cake. The store was full of people and you told everybody to sing Happy Birthday.... considering how I am shy!!!!

But I remember also when you, at the APA Conference in San Francisco, met people coming from everywere. They asked for a picture with you, a handshake, almost ready to kiss your a Pope!!

You are a good counselor and a friend but also a great teacher.

At the end I cannot forget the way you like to play with Lorenzo, and with him I send you a big hug.

Laura Borgogni
University of Rome

Dear Phil:

It's been great to know you. I admire your IQ, your flair, your compassion for others, your social conscience, and good humor. You are one of the most interesting people I know; and I count myself lucky to have known you for most of my life. Let's not lose contact as we grow older in retirement.


Gordon Bower
Stanford University
United States


Although you've dedicated your career to convincing people that it's the situation and not the person, your life and your legacy suggest that it's not that simple. Even as a devout social psychologist, I’m not convinced that we could create more Phil Zimbardo’s just by recreating your environment. If it were that simple, there would be more people like you, and the world would be a far better place. In some important ways, you are less a product of your environment and more an example of how on some special occasions it can be transcended.

There was a point early in my relationship with you that I was astounded by your good luck. You rose from a modest background, had chance encounters with people like Malcolm X, were a classmate of Stanley Milgram, moved from assistant professor in the Bronx to full professor at Stanford during the course of a single phone call, and hadn’t really even identified the independent and dependent variables in your most famous study before running it. But somehow it all worked. These chance encounters and extraordinary happenings seamlessly became your life.

Then at some point (it may have been during an ayahuasca tea ceremony), I realized that you weren’t the lucky one. The lucky ones were really those that you met during these chance encounters and the even luckier that got to know and love you well. I have no doubt that if Malcolm and Stanley were alive today that they would be telling stories about how lucky they were to have known you.

Most people will never know how lucky I feel to have had the opportunity to work with you and to watch you live. For me, it truly continues to be a life changing experience. I will always be grateful for what you have taught me both in and outside of the classroom, and for the positive example that you have set for me and all that are lucky enough to know you.

As I reflect on your career and the things that I know are important to you, I can’t help but think of how proud your parents would be of you, and of how proud you should be of yourself. You have made contributions to psychology and to the world that will last many times longer than your illustrious career.

Very best of wishes for a long and wonderful retirement!

Time to break out the present-hedonism!


John Boyd
Stanford University
United States

I had a great time dancing with you in Grand Forks, North Dakota! I hope retirement treats you well.

Best wishes,

April Bradley
University of North Dakota
United States

Best wishes on your retirement and whatever new adventures it brings!

Gary Brase
University of Missouri -- Columbia
United States

Dear Phil,

Since I know that you will never actually retire, I want to congratulate you on finding a way to spend more time on the projects that are most important to you. You have made an enormous contribution to psychology, for which we are all most grateful. And you've reached out to the general public in a way that has been extremely important.

All best wishes to you as you embark on the next phase of your life.

Sharon Brehm
Indiana University, Bloomington
United States

Thank you, Dr. Zimbardo, for helping us all to introduce the fascinating world of psychology to our students!!!

Kerry Brennan
New Trier High School
United States

Dear Phil:

Plato said: "Those having torches will pass them on to others."

To paraphrase Henry Brooks Adams, teachers affect eternity; they can never tell where their influence will end.

You have passed more torches and affected eternity as much as any psychologist I know.

May you live long and die in splendor!


Charles Brewer
Furman University
United States

Dear Phil,

"Phil Zimbardo is retiring," the email message began. I stopped and reread that sentence several time not really believing it. Stanford Psychology, especially the second floor, will never be the same. Your energy, your intellectual curiosity, your passion for psychology and life are at the heart of the department. You will be missed.

And, you will be remembered. Just as I remember Amos in the corner office on the third floor, the second floor is Phil's world. The beautiful African masks, the espresso maker, the wild prints in the seminar room across the hall. You made a cozy and welcoming home away from home for many of us, who spent countless hours in our crowded graduate student offices.

I remember your quick footsteps as you dashed up the stairs to your office, your breathless conversations with Roseanne about manuscripts and teaching materials, your sometimes unintelligible scribbles on articles ripped from magazines and journals raising interesting paradoxes or pointing out research ideas to pursue. I remember being Head TA for Psych 1, a course (or, more accurately a phenomenon) you created that exposed generations of Stanford undergraduates to the wonders of psychology. As TA, I remember your ideas about pedagogy, teaching philosophy, test construction, and course design, many of which influence my teaching today.

Most special, however, is the memory of our publication (Brodt & Zimbardo, 1981), my first JPSP. I was one of the few students whose first year project was published, which made this experience even more special. Working with you through that process educated me and showed me the depth of your intellect, passion, and scholarship, and your talent in communicating ideas.

Picking up where Mel Lee left off, you and I designed a remarkably powerful study altering the attributions of the shy Stanford women in our experiment. By simply redirecting their attributions, shy women behaved as if they were not shy. Our talented (and funny) confederate, Larry Bascom, could not distinguish the two. Of course, the manuscript had more to say, but my memory is of discussing, designing, and running this elegant experiment that worked out just as we had predicted.

I learned the most from you, however, as we wrote and revised the manuscript. First, you reacted with emotion, something I will never forget. You got angry after reading some of the associate editor's comments and scratched those feelings across the page as we digested the first round of reviews. Then, you quickly sprung into action, suggesting how to handle various comments, criticisms, etc. You were human and you were (and are) a pro.

There are many other memories I could share, but I stop. Phil, I wish you the best in your retirement. I am honored to know you and it was a privilege to work with you in graduate school. I hope that our paths cross again.

With warm regards and deep respect,

Susan Brodt
Duke University
United States

Aloha, Phil,

Your career has truly been an exemplar for psychologists in your advocacy for psychology and its contributions towards society's ills as well as your mentoring of students into the field. I wish you much fun, happiness and fulfillment in this next chapter of your life!

Mahalo nui loa for all of your great work.

Mâlama pono! [Take care!] and aloha,

Kate Brown
Hawaii Psychological Association
United States

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