Psychology News

The Beginning and Ending of an Academic Journey with Andy Baum

Dr. Baum

Dr. Andy Baum passed away suddenly on Monday, November 22, 2010 at the early age of 62, just before the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. It gave me a new perspective of this holiday because, gathered with my three sons who knew Andy well, we not only gave thanks for the many blessings we had during this past year, but also thanks for allowing us to have had Andy as our dear friend for the past 30 years. We were happy telling many "Andy stories," including many about his beloved cats. My sons all remembered their initial contacts with Andy, who insisted that they call him Andy rather than Dr/Mr Baum. It was the first time in their young lives that they were able to address an adult by his first name. This habit continued throughout his life, with him asking everyone, including students, to call him Andy. He had a great impact on everyone he worked with, especially his students. I have received many emails since his passing from his former students/colleagues, such as the following:

 

"There's nothing that can be said to make our loss easier... Andy meant more to me than words could express; he was one of my main mentors in shaping both my professional career and in helping me grow personally."

 

"I am tremendously sorry for your loss. Andy was an incredible man who impacted so many. I truly wouldn't be where I am today if it weren't for him. He will be missed."

 

"I wanted to thank you for affording me the opportunity to work with him. He was a character, and also a hell of a researcher, and he then became a friend."

 

"Rest in peace, AB. You were a great boss, mentor, person and friend. You will be greatly missed by all of those who were fortunate enough to have known you."

 

"We are left with big shoes to fill and a person of great compassion to honor. It is a testament to his character that he leaves such a large wake."

 

"Andy, I miss you. You were the tree that sprouted many roots, and careers were made under your tutelage... Rest in peace... you will always be in my heart."

Andy was born in Washington, D.C. on October 3, 1948, the first of two sons born to Myron and Beatrice Baum. He subsequently grew up in Silver Spring, Maryland. He received his BS in Psychology from The University of Pittsburgh in 1970, and then his Ph.D. in Psychology from the State University of New York (SUNY) at Stony Brook. At that time, he met his wife, Carrie, who also received her doctorate in Psychology. He was preceded in death by his father, Myron, and is survived by his mother, Beatrice, his wife Carrie, son Jesse, daughter Callie, new granddaughter Kaylee Faye Turner (daughter of Callie and Ethan), his brother (Robert) and sister-in-law (Peggy).

Andy was a major force in the field of Health Psychology, as attested by the many activities/honors awarded to him: Executive Council, Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research; Fellow, American Psychological Association (Divisions 1, 8, 34, 38, 49); Outstanding Contributions to Health Psychology (Early Career Award), American Psychological Association, Division of Health Psychology; Master Lecturer, American Psychological Association; Outstanding Service, Society of Behavioral Medicine; Fellow, Society of Behavioral Medicine; Charter Fellow, American Psychological Society; Centennial Award, Early Career Contributions to the Science Directorate, American Psychological Association; Science Weekend Lecturer, American Psychological Association; Achievement Medal, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences; Outstanding Service Medal, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences; Distinguished Service Medal, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences; Fellow, Society of Personality and Social Psychology; Outstanding Contributions to Health Psychology (Senior Investigator Award), American Psychological Association, Division of Health Psychology. He was also on various committees, editorial boards (including serving as editor of two journals), and more -- too many to even begin to list here. Finally, he was a truly outstanding scientist and scholar, having published over 150 scientific research articles, over 70 book chapters, as well as being the author or editor of 39 books. He was also the Principal Investigator on 11 NIH grants, 3 NSF grants, 4 DOD grants, and numerous other extramural grants.

It never ceases to amaze me that the paths of people suddenly cross, not by chance alone, but due to earlier relationships in one's life. In the case of Andy and me, the first time our paths almost crossed was at SUNY Stony Brook. I was there as an undergraduate student and graduated in 1969. I was very happy working in the laboratory of Dr. James Geer and wanted to remain at Stony Brook for my graduate training. However, it was then the policy of Stony Brook not to accept their own undergraduates to their graduate program in order to provide students with a different perspective of the field of psychology. As it turned out, Dr. Geer's Ph.D. mentor was Peter Lang when they were at the University of Pittsburgh, and so Dr. Geer "shipped me out" to the University of Wisconsin where Dr. Lang was on faculty. At that same time, the new incoming graduate student class at Stony Brook included Andy Baum. I never did meet him, and so our paths almost crossed. However, one remnant of both our careers at Stony Brook was the relationship that we developed with Dr. Jerome Singer, who was - as we all know - a great social psychologist who also later became one of the driving forces in the development of the field of Health Psychology. After completing our respective graduate training, my first faculty position was at The University of Texas at Arlington/UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. Andy joined the faculty at Trinity College in Connecticut. We were still literally a thousand miles away from one another, and never had met. Our initial meeting subsequently occurred in 1978 when the only common faculty member in the lives of both of us - Jerome Singer - was in the early stages of developing the Department of Medical Psychology at The Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda.

At that time, Jerry invited Andy, David Krantz, and me to join the department. For all three of us, this became the real starting point of our "accelerated academic careers." It was interesting that, because the new University was not completely finished, we were initially in temporary facilities which required Andy, David and me to share a large office together along with our often puzzled secretary, Wanda. Poor Wanda had to put up with the antics of three new "young Turks" trying to talk over one another, competing with one another, collaborating with one another, etc. Although this office sharing was initially inconvenient, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. In retrospect, this was an outstanding "forced bonding" experience which we all have looked back on as a valuable learning experience. Moreover, under the tutelage of Jerry, we all became enmeshed with integrating our specialties with the new emerging field of Health Psychology. In fact, during this time, Andy and I wrote the first textbook in Health Psychology (David became a third author on the second edition). Andy and I had fond memories of writing this book together because it was the first example of how "driven" we were in terms of getting things accomplished which would lay the foundation for our prolific future academic careers. We actually had a non-verbalized competition in terms of writing our chapters. I remember that, after we signed the contract for the textbook, Andy produced his first chapter in two weeks. I was amazed at this unexpected production speed and subsequently had my first chapter written in two-to-three weeks. Meanwhile, Andy was writing his second chapter and had it completed shortly after I completed my first chapter. And so it went. With this rhythm, we actually completed the first draft of the entire book in about three months, with it being published within a year after signing the contract. An Introduction to Health Psychology was the very first non-edited book in this new field, and was published in 1983 by Addison-Wesley Publishers. This started the trend in our academic production lives in terms of getting used to working 24/7 in the field in which we were entirely enmeshed and grew to love because of the new frontiers into which we were expanding as a profession. Of course, we asked Jerry Singer to write the foreword to the textbook, which he enthusiastically agreed to do for us. We were immediately reinforced for our work ethic in producing this book by the outstanding foreward that he wrote, which read as follows:

"...the field of health psychology has become a veritable mixing bowl of the basic areas of psychology. Someone who wishes to become conversant with the entire field would find it necessary to master theories and techniques from clinical psychology, cognitive psychology, experimental psychology, neuropsychology, physiological psychology, social psychology - and the list goes on. As if there were not diversity enough, the span of the content areas includes health behavior, prevention, treatment, etiology of disease, rehabilitation, stress, adherence to medical regimes, and many additional topics. It is no wonder that the task of organizing all these materials, making sense of them, and presenting them in a way that students can use fruitfully has not, until now, been accomplished... The present volume takes a giant step toward filling that gap. Between them, Gatchel and Baum have expertise in a number of areas, including biofeedback, stress management, psychophysiology, environmental effects, clinical psychology, and social psychology. Their broad array of knowledge and experience in teaching and in medical research made them a natural choice as prospective coauthors. But it was their special skill in writing textbooks that enabled them to use all these materials to produce a first-rate product. Years ago, when both students and textbooks were fewer in number, texts were produced that did more than just educate students. They served as codifiers, idea-providers, and handbooks for their fields. This book may well serve such a role and thus have a significant impact in shaping the field of health and medical psychology."

-- Jerome E. Singer

 

In 1981, the call of Texas and family resulted in my returning to The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, where I joined the Department of Psychiatry, Division of Psychology. This was one of the most difficult decisions I had to make in my academic career because of my close ties to Andy, David and Jerry. However, in retrospect, this was the right move to make because we all were then able to develop our own independent identities. Andy started calling my Bubba because of my new Texan status and I, in turn, called him Andre just because I knew it would make him chuckle. Subsequently, in 1993, Andy moved to Pittsburgh, becoming the Director of the Behavioral Medicine and Oncology Program at The University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI), where he continued his illustrious career. He ended up as a Deputy Director of UPCI. There were three deputies - basic research, clinical, and him ("Lord High Poobah of Everything Else" we said). He had 80 people working under him.

Well, the universe was not yet finished with the lives of Andy and me. In 2004, I was offered the position as Chairman of Psychology, College of Science, at The University of Texas at Arlington, with the task of increasing the status of this department as a major research university department. I was given the opportunity to hire mulitple new junior faculty, as well as more senior investigators. The first of such senior investigators I thought of was Andy, with whom I had continued to collaborate over our many years apart. I thought it would be a long shot in terms of getting Andy "out of the Northeast." However, with some persuasion and multiple visits to the DFW area, Andy decided to give it a try. One of the selling points I gave Andy was the fact that "since he already wore cowboy boots, he would be able to purchase them at a lower price down in Texas cowboy boot country." When Andy, his wife Carrie, his son Jesse, and his daughter Callie arrived, they all became instant Texans. They were able to purchase a three-acre lot outside the city where they subsequently started raising horses, along with their cats and dogs. Also, they soon became Texas "oil and gas folks," with the large Barnett Shale Natural Gas reserve running under their property, for which they began receiving natural gas lease payments. True Texans they were! We were able to get Carrie a position in the College of Science which she loved, and both Jesse and Callie excelled in one of the better school districts in the area. Jesse subsequently graduated from high school and was awarded an Outstanding Freshman scholarship in the College of Engineering at UT Arlington. If you could see Jesse now, one would swear he was born and raised in Texas because of his wearing cowboy boots and cowboy hats. Callie recently had her first child with her Texas high-school sweetheart.

Earlier this year, our great personal friend and colleague who was so instrumental in developing the field of Health Psychology, Jerry Singer, died. Andy helped to write the obituary for Jerry. I now have the great honor to write Andy's. We will all miss you, Andre, as a friend, colleague and pioneering scholar in the field of Health Psychology. It is now fitting to end with one of Andy's favorite quotes, which personified his approach to life: "To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty; To find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived; This is to have succeeded."

-- Robert J. Gatchel, Ph.D., ABPP

Contact: gatchel@uta.edu

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