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Humans of the Hilltop: Claire Etaugh

Claire Etaugh of the Psychology Department is the longest standing professor at Bradley, as she started her career in 1965.
photo by Kylee Higgins

While many students fresh out of graduate school may see their first job as a stepping stone for the rest of their career, one professor at Bradley received her position soon after graduating and has remained at the university, earning her the title of longest standing professor.

That longest standing professor, Claire Etaugh, teaches in the Psychology Department and started her career at Bradley in 1965.

Throughout her 52 years on campus, Etaugh said she has made lifelong friendships with the faculty, staff and her past students.

“I try to keep up with a lot of my former students,” Etaugh said. “We email back and forth, and it’s wonderful to see how people are growing and developing.”

According to Etaugh, her fascination with the growth and development of people is how she came to study psychology. She earned her bachelor’s in psychology at Barnard College in New York City and furthered her studies in psychological development at the University of Minnesota, where she earned her master’s and doctorate.

In her time at Bradley, Etaugh has written over 100 publications in peer-reviewed journals and chapters in books. Additionally, she has co-authored three books. However, Etaugh said she prefers to have students collaborate on her publications.

Etaugh’s endeavors don’t stop with her written publications, however. She also sat on the committee to develop the Women’s and Gender studies program at Bradley. According to Etaugh, her involvement to develop the program is a part of the legacy she’d like to leave at Bradley.

“I think many of us [professors] try to leave a legacy, especially as we’re moving on in our careers,” Etaugh said. “We like to leave things for the generations who follow us that we think will help them and enrich them. I think I have done that to some extent.”

Etaugh was recognized for her efforts when she was named Caterpillar Professor in August 2013 and was also named Distinguished Professor of Psychology this past February.

After all the time she has spent growing at Bradley, Etaugh said she is ready to spend more time on her personal life and will be retiring to a part-time position after this semester.

“With my professional life, I’ve always felt it’s about balance,” Etaugh said. “Now it’s become more of maybe a life balance to allow myself to spend a little more time with [my family]. I have grown children, I have grandkids. [I would] like to do some more traveling and spend some more time doing more volunteer work in the community, maybe take more classes … [I would like] to do a little more of those fun things.”

According to Etaugh, her time at Bradley has given her more than just professional growth.

“No one stays at a place this long without really enjoying what they do,” Etaugh said. “[There have been] wonderful students that I’ve had over the years and students who have been just a joy to teach and work with … a number of whom have become lifelong friends. [There have been] many friendships that I’ve formed over the years with faculty and staff. I mean, those are the kind of priceless things, [and] you just can’t put a value on those friendships.”

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