Member since: 1938
Home: East Lansing, Mich.
Occupations: Globe-trotting, industrial/organizational psychologist; professor emeritus at Michigan State University; father of two daughters, grandfather of a granddaughter and grandson.
Education: Wickert earned his bachelor's in psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles, and his doctorate in industrial/organizational psychology at the University of Chicago in 1938.
World War II experience: Wickert was one of 25 psychologists the Army brought to Washington in 1941 to administer intelligence tests and assign draftees to particular units based on their work experience. When the United States entered World War II later that year, Wickert joined the Air Force as an officer and spent four years developing and validating tests used to classify cadets as pilots, bombardiers or navigators.
A frequent flyer: When the war ended, he began teaching at Michigan State University in both the psychology department and business school. While he enjoyed Michigan, Wickert took every opportunity to travel. He visited all seven continents to teach, consult and occasionally vacation, including two yearlong Fulbright teaching positions at the University of Graz in Austria (1953–54) where he taught psychology in German, and the University of Toulouse in France, where he taught psychology in French (1961–62).
A tragic assignment: Wickert lived in South Vietnam from 1955 to 1957, working as a consultant to a project to aid that government, arranged by MSU's political science department. He learned Vietnamese and, among other assignments, trained a class of 83 new law school graduates hand-picked for upper-level civil service positions. He later learned that 77 members of the class had been assassinated within a year of starting their posts out in the provinces. "Can you imagine?" he asks. "That shook me up."
An exception to the rule: While most academics are cut off after two Fulbrights, the State Department found Wickert's I/O skills and international savvy so useful, it sent him on seven three-month Fulbright stints to sub-Saharan Africa in the '70s and '80s to teach American management techniques to university, government and industry administrators.
Active into retirement: Wickert retired from MSU and globe-trotting in 1993 at age 80 but didn't settle down. He meets with his Spanish book club twice a week to translate Spanish novels into English and regularly attends lectures at the university. Sadly, his wife and travel companion of 52 years, Dorothy, whom he met as a grad student at the University of Chicago, died 15 years ago. "I still miss her," he says.
The secret to longevity: "Exercise. One half-hour each morning and each evening."
Take on modern psychology: "I keep worrying that psychology considers itself low-grade medicine. I'd like to see us be able to stand on our own," he says.
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