Many staff and alumni of the University of Canterbury will be saddened to hear of the death of Emeritus Professor Kenneth Strongman on 29 December 2019. After completing his PhD at University College London in 1964, and taking up positions as a Lecturer and Senior Lecturer at the University of Exeter, he was appointed as Professor of Psychology at the University of Canterbury in 1979, where he remained for 41 years. He was Head of the Department of Psychology from 1982 to 1997, and subsequently Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Arts and Assistant Vice Chancellor (Government & Community Relations). He became Professor Emeritus on his retirement in 2010 but continued to contribute actively to academic life, including seeing the humanities included within the Royal Society of New Zealand.
Ken achieved wide recognition for his extensive academic research, teaching and service. His research was principally in the field of emotions. His text “The Psychology of Emotion” ran through five editions and was widely cited. Ken also edited the first international collection of essays (1991) in a field that was only just emerging. His undergraduate students remember him for his clear and easy lecturing style. The many PhD students he successfully supervised remember him for his insight, his endless encouragement and patience, and the genuine pleasure he took in their achievements. As a psychologist he always insisted on the discipline’s historic dual place as both a science and an art, and its application to everyday life.
A lifelong believer in the role of academics in society more broadly, Ken took on numerous roles outside the university. He was active in the university teachers’ union. His activities in Christchurch included chairing the Arts Centre management board and extensive writing for The Press, especially as a television and book reviewer. He regularly gave public lectures to audiences on a wide variety of topics. An avid squash player for much of his academic life, he will be missed by colleagues and friends from across the University, New Zealand, and the world.
Emeritus Professor Brian Haig, Professor Simon Kemp, Nathan Consedine