Robert G. Demaree

Pioneer Evaluation Scientist (1920-2002)

The following article appears in:
American Psychologist, Vol. 58, No. 6/7 (June/July 2003), page 493.
Copyright 2003 by the American Psychological Association.

Bob was born on September 20, 1920, in Rockford, Illinois, the oldest of four children. He was educated at the University of Illinois at Urbana – Champaign, receiving his bachelor’s (1941), master’s (1948), and doctoral (1950) degrees there. His doctoral work was in general experimental with a minor in math. Like many of his generation, he found his education interrupted and influenced by World War II. He finished his active duty (1941-1946) as a major in the U.S. Army, with responsibilities for personnel selection and assignment. His graduate work led him into a career of human factors research, training, performance measurement, criterion prediction, and multivariate analytic applications. He taught personnel testing and industrial/organizational psychology at Tulane University and the University of Illinois before turning his attention primarily to human performance assessments in the early aerospace research industry.

In 1966, his career took another turn when he joined the Institute of Behavioral Research (IBR), newly formed by Saul B. Sells, at Texas Christian University. From 1966 to 1985, when Bob retired as emeritus professor of psychology, he taught courses in multivariate analysis, measurement theory, and evaluation research while directing numerous theses and dissertations. It was his collaboration and research with Sells and their IBR associates that became his hallmark. He assisted in overseeing a diverse research and training program involving personnel selection for major airlines, an integration of Guilford and Cattell personality theory trait markers (requiring a 600-item factor analysis before the advent of large computers and statistical packages), organizational climate research for the Navy and NASA, and National Institutes of Health – funded health services program evaluation research. Of particular importance are Bob’s pioneering methodological and psychometric contributions to the first national evaluation of community-based treatments for drug addiction (the Drug Abuse Reporting Program), funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Over 150 publications, including 12-year follow-up studies of daily heroin users, are based on this particular project, and his leadership in applying regression models and other multivariate techniques to outcome predictions provided significant advancements in program evaluation methodologies.

Although Bob was not on “popular featured speaker” lists, his clear and unencumbered writing style was exemplary, and his mentoring of young IBR faculty and graduate students was inspirational. His intuition and quick insight for sorting out disparities embedded in huge multivariate analytic computer printouts were legendary with his students. Often referred to as “Dr. D,” he was gentle and compassionate in his temperament; in the words of some of his former students, he is remembered as one of the kindest men they ever knew. When Bob died on December 1, 2002, he had enjoyed 54 years of marriage to Alyce and a life surrounded by four children and four grandchildren, as well as his time with nature (ranging from gardening to hiking in the Rockies).

D. Dwayne Simpson
George W. Joe
Texas Christian University