Influential Professor Emeritus Michael A. Wallach Dies at 86

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Michael A. Wallach, PhD, noted research psychologist and influential Duke professor has died at 86. (Michael A. Wallach Obituary in The News& Observer)

In a letter to faculty, Chair of the Department of Psychology & Neuroscience Scott Huettel shared his memories of Michael, stating: “I first met Michael as a graduate student many years ago. His signal traits were not just the depth of his thinking, but his straightforward kindness. He modeled the sort of respectful collegiality – whether interacting with a senior faculty member or with a beginning graduate student – to which we all should aspire. He and Lise (who remains an important part of our community) influenced generations of Duke students through their teaching and mentorship.

Carl J. Erickson, a colleguae, friend, and fellow Professor Emeritus reflected in Michael’s research and impactfulness in the field. “It’s difficult for me to separate his contributions from those of Lise. What has struck me as most significant about their work is their remarkable ability to stand back from the field and take its measure, a kind of ombudsmanship. I am reminded particularly of their book, Psychology’s Sanction for Selfishness which provided an important, thoughtful perspective.” Erikson also noted Wallach’s role as an accomplished pianist, stating:  “Although technically very good, it was his sensitivity and touch which moved me. I shall miss him.” 

Those interested in honoring Michael A. Wallach can make a charitable donation in his name to the classical music station WCPE.