Department of Psychology
Department of Psychology

Ira Iscoe In Memoriam

 

Ira Iscoe, Ashbel Smith Professor of Psychology Emeritus, passed away on June 12, 2015, at the age of 94. Ira’s leadership broke new ground in mental health care, the prevention of mental illness, and both undergraduate and graduate education. 

Ira Iscoe was born in New York City on February 1, 1921. He moved to Montreal at age 8, where he spent his formative years. During World War II, he served in the Pacific in the U.S. Army, earning two Bronze Stars for courageous action in combat. In 1951, he married Louise Kosches and moved to Austin. Ira earned a Ph.D. in clinical psychology at UCLA in 1951. That same year he accepted an Assistant Professorship at The University of Texas, where he moved through the ranks to Full Professor and continued to serve the university through a long and distinguished career. He was instrumental in developing the Clinical Psychology Program and founding leader of the Community Psychology Program. In 1960-1961, he served as a Senior Fellow at Harvard University in the Community Mental Health Research and Training Program.

Ira made substantial contributions to the broader university. He served as Director of the Counseling and Psychological Services Center from 1968 to 1978. He then led the Institute of Human Development and Family Studies from 1978 to1994. He directed the Plan II Interdisciplinary Honors program from 1981 to 1986. In 1992-1993, he was honored with the College of Liberal Arts’ highest honor, the Pro Bene Meritis Award.

Ira served as a beacon to the field of psychology nationally and in the state of Texas. He was a leader in founding the field of community psychology and at the forefront in arguing for preventive services, community-level interventions, and the needs of underserved groups. He served as President of the Texas Psychological Association, the Southwest Psychological Association, and the American Psychological Association’s Division of Community Psychology. He was awarded a Harvard University Fellowship in Community Mental Health, the Distinguished Visiting Scientist Award from the National Institute of Mental Health, and the Distinguished Psychology Award from the Texas Psychological Association.

Ira and Louise contributed significantly to the civil rights movement on campus and in the local community. At the university, Ira was a strong supporter of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement. As a proponent of Inter-American Psychology, he helped to facilitate academic ties between researchers at The University of Texas and the National University of Mexico.

Ira remained a leading voice at the university until 2014 when he and Louise moved from Austin to Washington, D.C., to be near family.

Ira’s memory endures in the hearts of his many friends and colleagues.

Luci Baines Johnson reminisced, “Thousands of folks’ lives are richer because of him. He was wisdom on two feet…I’m never going to meet anyone like him again” (from an interview with The Austin-American Statesman).

Marc Lewis (Associate Professor, UT Department of Psychology) commented, “He didn’t just touch lives, he changed them on a grand scale…He was an amazing and unique force on the department, on the University, and on the entire state of Texas…Ira was a one-of-a kind.”

Manuel Ramirez (Professor, UT Department of Psychology) observed, “He was the quintessential multicultural man. He believed that all cultures made important contributions to our search for meaning and enjoyment in life. He was very skilled in getting people who were in conflict to work together.”

Josh Holahan (Professor, UT Department of Psychology) reflected, “His insights foreshadowed developments in science and society decades before others recognized their significance. His warmth and humor pervaded every occasion blessed by his presence.”


Books

Lorion, R. P., & Iscoe, I., et. al. (Eds.) (1996). Psychology and Public Policy. Washington, D.C. American Psychological Association.

Rickel, A., Gerrard, M., & Iscoe, I. (1984). Social and Psychological Problems of Women. Washington, D.C. Hemisphere Publishing Corporation.

Iscoe, I., Bloom, B. & Spielberger, C. (Eds.) (1977). Community Psychology in Transition. New York, NY: Wiley.

Iscoe, I. (1975). Coping Adaptation and Lifestyles. New York, New York: Harper & Row.

Iscoe, I. & Spielberger, C. (1970). Community Psychology: Perspectives in Training and Research. New York, NY: Appleton-Century-Crofts.

Iscoe, I. & Stevenson. H. (1962). Personality Development in Children. Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press.


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