Featured Former APA Presidents

The APA values the contributions of its Past Presidents to the success of our association and the development of psychology. Because of this, we highlight several past presidents every year, giving a brief bio and presenting photos and other information from our archives. These are the presidents we’ve highlighted so far:

Richard Suinn: 1999

Richard SuinnRichard Michael Suinn was the first APA president of Asian American descent. He earned his doctoral degree from Stanford University in 1959. After brief stints at Whitman College and the University of Hawaii, Dr. Suinn settled in to a long career at Colorado State University. There he served as Department Chair, in which capacity he initiated a progressive program to recruit and retain ethnic minority students at a time when there was still significant resistance to such efforts.

Joseph Dominic Matarazzo: 1989

Former APA President Joseph Matarazzo“To successfully grapple with one of the more important challenges of the last 2 decades of the 20th century, we must aggressively investigate and deal effectively with the role of the individual’s behavior and lifestyle in health and dysfunction. There is much more that could be done at the interfaces of normal physical health and behavior.” Joseph D. Matarazzo in the American Psychologist, 1982, p. 12.  

Florence Denmark: 1980

Former APA President Florence DenmarkFlorence Levin Denmark was born in Philadelphia into a large extended family. Her father was an attorney and her mother a musician. She has recounted that she shares many of her father’s aptitudes and interests, while it was her mother who was a powerful force for achievement and accomplishment in Florence’s life.  

Anne Anastasi: 1972

Former APA President Anne AnastasiAnne Anastasi was born in New York City. Her father died when she was 1 year old and she was raised by her mother and grandmother. Precocious in intellect, Anne was primarily home-schooled by her grandmother, while her mother provided the role-model of being a resourceful woman in the work force. Anne's intellectual ability facilitated her early entry into Barnard College at age 15 and into graduate school at Columbia University, where she earned her doctorate in only 2 years, at age 21.  

Paul Meehl: 1962

Former APA President Paul MeehlPaul Meehl was born in Minneapolis, Minn., in 1920, was educated there from grade school through graduate school, and died there in 2002. Although he stayed close to his physical origins, Paul Meehl encompassed the world of thought. Arguably one of the most brilliant American psychologists of the twentieth century, Paul contributed ideas of substance to numerous domains of psychological theory, science and practice.  

Neal Elgar Miller: 1961

Former APA President Neal MillerNeal Elgar Miller was born on Aug. 3, 1909, in Milwaukee, Wis. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington in 1931, a master’s from Stanford the next year, and his doctorate from Yale in 1935, where he eventually began teaching and became the first James Rowland Angell Professor of Psychology in 1952.  

Ernest Hilgard: 1949

Former APA President Ernest HilgardErnest Ropiequet “Jack” Hilgard was one of APA’s most remarkable Presidents. His long life span and his intimate involvement for many years in the very middle of the mainstream of American psychology ensured that he knew personally most of the key figures that shaped the science and emerging practice of psychology in the 20th century.  

Margaret Floy Washburn: 1921

Margaret Floy WashburnMargaret Floy Washburn was the first woman to earn a doctoral degree in American psychology (1894) and the second woman, after Mary Whiton Calkins, to serve as APA President.

Mary Whiton Calkins: 1905

Mary Whiton Calkins: 1921 APA PresidentMary Whiton Calkins was the 14th president of APA and the first woman to serve in that office. Although she earned her PhD at Harvard under William James, Calkins was refused the degree by the Harvard Corporation (who continues to refuse to grant the degree posthumously) on the grounds that Harvard did not accept women.

William James: 1894 and 1904

Former APA President William JamesWilliam James did more to establish the new science of psychology in American than anyone else, despite the fact that he did not conduct psychological research or develop a systematic theory of psychology.