If Jerry Seinfeld had become a professor, he’d have been you. With energy, dedication, wry humor, and a seemingly endless string of clips from the iconic sitcom, you have introduced countless students to the concepts of social psychology. You have done this not only at Williams, but nationally through your widely used textbooks. And like Jerry, you have mentored many of the next generation in your profession. You have also shared the master’s sense of timing, focusing your research, just as the field was about to explode, on the psychology of the law. You have helped us understand better how reliable eyewitness testimony is, or is not, and how juries make their decisions. You have helped show how people actually will confess to crimes they did not commit, how to interrogate them so that they will, and, most usefully, how to interrogate them so that they won’t. You have testified in groundbreaking trials and have advocated for changes in police interrogation manuals and for the videotaping of interrogation sessions. This work has won you an appointment as a Supreme Court Fellow and to an almost Seinfeld-level of media exposure, including on Nightline, Prime Time Live, and even Oprah. One small difference: If Seinfeld’s humor was about nothing, yours has helped make more just our system of law.
I hereby declare you Massachusetts Professor of Psychology, Emeritus, entitled to all the rights, honors, and privileges appertaining thereto.
June 5, 2016