Bonnie Strickland

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Bonnie Ruth Strickland
BornNovember 24, 1936 (1936-11-24) (age 82)
Alma materOhio State University
Scientific career
InstitutionsEmory University, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Doctoral advisorJulian Rotter[1]

‘’’Bonnie Ruth Strickland’’’ is known for her lifelong commitment to psychology. From her decades long career at Emory University and University of Massachusetts, Amherst to her time as the president of the American Psychology Association (APA) she has contributed a great deal to clinical psychology, social psychology, and feminism.

Strickland was born in 1936 in Louisville, Kentucky to Willie Whitfield and Roy Strickland. She later moved to Birmingham, Alabama with her mother, and spent much of her childhood there. Strickland believes that growing up in the South had a major impact on her development in adolescence, and it could be considered a key inspiration for the research she has conducted during her career and her dedication to civil rights.

As an undergraduate, Strickland studied physical education, but was introduced to psychology by a professor of hers. She later went on to graduate school to pursue a doctorate degree in psychology. As a closeted gay woman in the 1950s and 60s, she became very interested in learning about marginalized people through research. Strickland has become an important figure for psychologists and feminists alike and continues to contribute to academia as a professor at the University of Massachusetts to this day.


Strickland was born on November 24, 1936 in Louisville, Kentucky. Strickland's mother, Willie Whitfield, worked for her family's dry goods business. Strickland's father Roy was employed with the railroad. Later on in her childhood, Strickland moved to Birmingham, Alabama with her mother and brother after her parents' separation.[1] Strickland has noted how her development was impacted by growing up in the American South. Her great grand father and several great uncles fought for the Confederate States Army in the American Civil War. Strickland said, "No child of my time could have escaped the loathing southerners felt for the North, or the twisted, convoluted notions we held about segregation."[2]

Strickland attended Alabama College and majored in physical education, but a psychology professor named Herbert Eber helped her to realize an interest in psychology.[2] She earned a PhD from Ohio State University in 1962.[1][3] By 1965, the 27-year-old Strickland was the dean of women and a psychology faculty member at Emory University.[3] Strickland taught at the University of Massachusetts Amherst for 45 years and is a professor emerita.[4] She served as APA president in 1987.[5] APA Division 35 (Society for the Psychology of Women) issues the Strickland-Daniel Mentoring Award to recognize feminist mentoring in psychology. The award was originally known as the Bonnie Strickland Distinguished Mentoring Award and it was later renamed to co-honor the award's first recipient, Jessica Henderson Daniel.[6]


  1. ^ a b c O'Connell, Agnes and Nancy Felipe Russo (1990). Women in Psychology: A Bio-bibliographic Sourcebook. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 319. ISBN 0313260915.
  2. ^ a b Oldfield, Kenneth and Richard Greggory Johnson III (eds.) (2008). Resilience: Queer Professors from the Working Class. SUNY Press. pp. 101–114. ISBN 079147741X.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  3. ^ a b Johnson, Kathryn (June 15, 1965). "Male Students "Communicate" with Youthful College Dean". The News and Courier. Retrieved September 5, 2013.
  4. ^ "Bonnie R. Strickland". University of Massachusetts Amherst. Retrieved September 5, 2013.
  5. ^ "Honored for their vision". APA Monitor on Psychology. 32 (11): 80. December 2001. Retrieved September 6, 2013.
  6. ^ "Strickland-Daniel Mentoring Award". American Psychological Association. Retrieved September 5, 2013.

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