Dr. Colleen Kelley Appointed Professor Emerita of Psychology
After 25 years as a member of the Florida State University faculty, Dr. Colleen Kelley retired at the end of the Fall 2021 Semester. Dr. Kelley has now been appointed Professor Emerita of Psychology in recognition of her outstanding service to her department, college, and university.
Dr. Kelley joined the Department of Psychology in 1996, bringing essential teaching and research skills in human memory and metacognition to the department’s Cognitive Area. Her FSU lab proved to be a potent training ground for the next generation of scientists and educators – she mentored 11 graduate students to their doctoral degree in Cognitive Psychology. The impact of the research completed by these students is reflected in her career h-index of 34. Moreover, as testament to Dr. Kelley’s wise mentorship, 2 of her PhD graduates went on to receive the Department of Psychology’s highly-competitive “Doctoral Graduate of Distinction Award.” In fact, 4 of her doctoral students are already Full Professors in Departments of Psychology at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, Colorado State University, Towson University, and the University of Oklahoma.
Dr. Kelley balanced her stellar accomplishments in graduate mentoring and research with legendary service to her FSU colleagues and the department. Highlights include service as a member on 57 doctoral committees, service on FSU’s Institutional Review Board for 10 years, service as Director of the Cognitive Program for 6 years, and leadership of 2 successful search committees for new faculty hires. In sum, the totality of Dr. Kelley’s work at FSU made a direct difference in the lives of well over 100 of our faculty members and graduate students, and in the lives of literally thousands of our undergraduate students. Several of Dr. Kelley’s former graduate students commented on the occasion of her retirement.
Dr. Michael Alban
Northern Arizona University
Dr. Kelley possesses an extraordinary combination of clear thinking and kindness. Best wishes to her in retirement. Dr. Edward T. Cokley Presidential Research Professor & Professor of Psychology Kinney-Sugg Outstanding Professor, Dodge Family College of Arts and Sciences Department of Psychology | University of Oklahoma Colleen truly changed my life. She's one of the strongest people I've ever met and a good egg, too.
Dr. Nicholas Gray
Florida State University
Being a graduate student under her guidance profoundly impacted my life for the better. Her mentorship, combining a wealth of knowledge and patience, has made me a more thoughtful and considerate person.
Dr. Jane Komsky
Director of Risk Analysis and Cognitive Research
Colleen is a brilliant researcher and a dedicated mentor. Our conversations on deep-dives into theory were the most important lessons I've had as a student of psychology; They taught me to build on the current field, but importantly, to also challenge it and innovate.
Dr. Matthew G. Rhodes*
Professor of Psychology
Colorado State University
I have been fortunate to work with a number of fantastic graduate students and have attempted to emulate Colleen in all of my advising—any success I have had in that arena is directly attributable to her example.
Dr. Lili Sahakyan**
Professor of Psychology
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
I was Colleen's first graduate student and she was my first and only graduate mentor. So to be honest, neither of us knew what we were getting into. Nevertheless, she was an outstanding mentor who brought a combination of wisdom, passion, and caring into her mentorship.
*Extended remarks by Matthew Rhodes.
Colleen was a tremendous advisor and has had a great impact on my career. She had an uncanny knowledge of, well, pretty much anything in psychology! You name the area and she can tell you what the major theories/controversies are, the big players, and the key questions. I’m honestly not sure how she had time to do this in addition to acquiring an encyclopedic knowledge her specialty in learning and memory! Beyond this incredible knowledge, she is a tremendous writer and thinker and simply a wonderful person. My favorite memories of grad school are of all the times Colleen would pop by my office or I would pop by hers to talk about ideas. (Upon completing grad school, it took me some time to adjust to not having these near-daily conversations!) Since that time, I have been fortunate to work with a number of fantastic graduate students and have attempted to emulate Colleen in all of my advising—any success I have had in that arena is directly attributable to her example.
** Extended remarks by Lili Sahakyan.
It is my greatest pleasure and honor to go down the memory lane of my time working with Colleen Kelley at FSU. I was Colleen's first graduate student and she was my first and only graduate mentor. So to be honest, neither of us knew what we were getting into. Nevertheless, she was an outstanding mentor who brought a combination of wisdom, passion, and caring into her mentorship.
Whenever I think of Colleen, several recollections come to mind immediately. Colleen is one of the most well-read people I know. Whatever topic she pursued, she did a deep dive into the literature and made sure she didn't miss any references of the key players in the field. She did this even when she was reviewing manuscripts on tangentially related topics! Colleen imparted this practice to me. When I collaborate with other people, they usually joke by saying "Lili, can we please cut down on your reference list?" (I should just tell them to blame Colleen!).
I initially arrived at FSU after a long overseas flight, and Colleen picked me up at the airport and brought me to her home. This was our first meeting in person. I was incredibly touched that she had gone to the trouble of finding Armenian cookbooks in order to prepare a traditional meal to make me feel welcome. She put the finishing touches on an elaborate meal, but before she even had the chance to serve the meal, I fell deeply asleep from the jetlag and didn't wake up until the next day. Needless to say I felt terribly embarrassed about such an awkward start to our relationship. However, Colleen was completely understanding, and it is just an example of many ways that she is a very caring and compassionate mentor who embraces and celebrates the diversity of her students.
I learned so much from Colleen, and not just about memory or the ethics of doing research. I learned about mentorship from her and I learned about teaching from her. I remember the first time I had to teach a large 200+ student class. I had no idea how I was supposed to "behave" in front of the large class being only a third-year graduate student myself. I remember that I asked Colleen "what should I do with my students?". She said most succinctly "just love them". This was the best advice about teaching I have ever received. When I mentor my students, I often find myself asking "what would Colleen do in this case?".
One of the things I am most pleased about is that since I long-ago graduated from FSU, our relationship has grown from mentorship to friendship. When I attend conferences, Colleen is the first person I look forward to seeing, and every time we meet I continue to be struck by how up-to-date she is on science and her creative thinking. Whenever we talk, a short phone call turns into hour-long conversations that always leaves me wanting more. Mostly, I cherish her lively sense of humor, wisdom, compassion, and caring.
So, congratulations Colleen on a wonderful career that touched the lives of many people (especially me) and best wishes on your retirement. And please know that you will always be my mentor and my dear friend.