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Lorraine Nadelman

Lorraine Nadelman, Associate Professor Emerita of Psychology

An inspiring educator gives to cultivate the next generation of scholars

Upon her retirement in 1993, the university said of professor Lorraine Nadelman, “She has truly been a ‘master teacher’: utterly dedicated, energetic, handsomely organized, innovative, and endlessly capable of individualizing instruction. She has inspired scores of students on to careers in psychology.” With her recent gift to the department creating the Honors Thesis Award in Developmental Psychology, the Graduate Student Research Prize in Developmental Psychology, and a visiting scholar fund, all in her name, the self-described “grandma of the developmental program” will continue to nurture and inspire students well into the future.

Lorraine Nadelman had an early exposure to a hands-on approach to learning child psychology that significantly shaped her as an educator. In her first child psychology course as an undergraduate at NYU, the teacher sent them to do research in nursery schools rather than the library. The experience not only cemented Nadelman’s interest in child psychology, but it had a lasting influence on the way she taught, with a firm emphasis on laboratory study.

Nadelman earned both her B.A. (1945) and her Ph.D. (1953) in psychology at NYU, and took a job as an assistant professor at Mount Holyoke College. In her four years there, she designed the child psych lab at Gorse Child Study Center, which is still in use.

In 1955, Nadelman moved to Michigan, when her husband Sidney Warschausky took a teaching position in the U of M English Department. In 1959 he became one of the first faculty members of the newly formed U of M Dearborn. After starting a family, Nadelman also began working at the university, in 1963. She taught an extension child psychology course in Detroit, as there were none offered on the Ann Arbor campus. “I thought it was ridiculous that our department, which was a huge department with high prestige, did not have a standard child psychology course,” she recalls. She convinced then chair Bill McKeachie to let her introduce one and within a short period of time, she and several faculty members had pulled the developmental courses from the personality areas to launch the developmental psychology program.

Early in her career at Michigan, Nadelman won a National Science Foundation award to spend a year working in London’s Tavistock Clinic with John Bowlby, where she studied sex identity among five year olds across socioeconomic classes. When she returned to the U.S. she replicated the work in what became one of the first cross-cultural studies in the area. Thanks to this experience, Nadelman maintained a life-long international focus in her work.

Nadelman’s dedication to education extended beyond the university and she gave generously of her time and skills to schools, camps, religious groups, and other organizations in the Ann Arbor area. She worked with the Hands-On Museum, Ann Arbor’s renowned children’s museum, from its inception. The museum became an important learning lab for her students, who observed and interviewed children and wrote outcome reviews for the museum’s NSF grants. “It’s one of the treasures in Ann Arbor,” Nadelman said in a 2005 interview. “I’m terribly proud of that place.”

Nadelman created the new Psychology Department funds at the urging of her children. She had set up a fund in her husband’s memory at U of M Dearborn, and they wanted a way to give in her name as well. Each of the funds allows the department to meet particular needs. Nadelman created the Honors Thesis Award as a way to encourage talented undergraduates to continue in the field. She developed the Graduate Student Research Prize to provide much-needed funding for master’s students and to recognize excellent research. Finally, the idea for the Visiting Scholar Fund was sparked by Professor Arnold Sameroff’s fund for visiting lecturers in developmental theory, which Nadelman wanted to complement with lecturers in developmental research. It also allows her to continue to teach by proxy, ensuring students have access to the newest work in the field, especially from international scholars. It’s an ideal legacy for a scholar for whom teaching and inspiring students was always the top priority.