Dr. Paul J. Watson in Memoriam
Dr. Paul J. Watson, who passed away on March 10th, 2019, served UTC and its students with distinction for 41 years. He was the recipient of the UTC Lifetime Achievement Award in Research for 2019. His contributions to the Department of Psychology, our students, and UTC cannot be overstated. Dr. Watson joined UTC in the Fall of 1977 as an Assistant Professor of Psychology. He subsequently received tenure and promotion to the rank of Associate Professor in 1984 and was promoted to Full Professor in 1989. He also served as Department Head from 2004 to 2011, a position that frequently challenged his Quaker sensibilities. Among his many duties during his tenure at UTC, Dr. Watson taught the large (250 student) sections of our general education course, PSY 1010, Introduction to Psychology, for longer than most of us could remember. He retired in December 2018 having taught an estimated 35,000 students (face-to-face) in his tenure at UTC. Generations of students can reflect on his enthusiasm, professionalism and humanity in presenting the basics of psychology in a fun, clear, and understandable manner.
In addition to his outstanding teaching skills, Dr. Watson was among the most productive researchers on campus, with a CV the size of the Hixson phone book. Trained as a physiological psychologist, his early research focused on animal behavior based on data from a rat lab run on the third floor of Holt Hall. Due to increasing regulation and decreasing funding, Dr. Watson transitioned into research on the psychology of religion where he developed an international reputation. He completed his culminating research project just prior to his passing, a book entitled Psychology and Religion Within an Ideological Sound, published posthumously as the first in a series entitled Brill Perspectives in Psychology and Religion.
Most importantly, Dr. Watson was simply a lovely person, who loved his family and cared deeply for his students. In these self-absorbed times, he was a model of selfless commitment, humility and kindness that made those around him want to be better. It was an honor to work with him and be considered his friend.
~ Dr. Brian J. O'Leary, Head, UTC Department of Psychology
We are fortunate to find a video of one of his lectures at Bryan College in 2010: Christianity & Psychology: Five Views.