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Dr. J. Richard Hackman '62  (1940-2013)

Photo of Dr. J. Richard Hackman.

It's a bit ironic to be asked to comment on how MacMurray College contributed to my 'success,' since my experiences there prompted me to question that very concept. Making the 16-mile journey to Jacksonville from my home in Virginia seemed like quite an adventure at the time - an adventure tinged with worry about whether I could possibly make it at such a fine college. But gradually I found myself less and less preoccupied with success, whether at MacMurray or later in the wider world. Both my coursework and my classmates showed me that there are many different ways to construct an engaging, meaningful life. I learned that the most important thing was not to succeed in any traditional sense but instead to choose settings that would challenge me to keep on learning and growing - and never, ever to settle in, adapt, and merely make do. That's what the liberal arts do for people, and it's what MacMurray did for me.

A native of central Illinois, Dr. J. Richard Hackman graduated from MacMurray College in 1962 with a bachelor's degree in mathematics and minors in psychology and physics. While at MacMurray, he was a member of the Honor Society and band. After graduation, Hackman attended the University of Illinois, where in 1966 he received his doctorate in social psychology with minors in sociology and psychological measurement.

Dr. Hackman began his teaching career as an assistant professor of administrative sciences and of psychology at Yale University and, in 1978, became a professor of organizational behavior and psychology at Yale. He moved to Harvard University in 1986, where he was the Edgar Pierce Professor of Social and Organizational Psychology. Hackman conducted research on a variety of topics in social and organizational psychology, including group behavior, social influences on individual behavior, and the design and leadership of self-managing units of organizations. His work involved diagnosing the strengths and weaknesses of work teams and the dynamics of musical ensembles.

Hackman authored or co-authored nine books, mostly on design and leadership of teams in organizations. He published over 100 chapters and articles related to leadership and other topics within the field of psychology. He was a member of the editorial boards of several professional journals and consulted to a variety of organizations about team effectiveness, leadership development, and the design of work. Hackman was the first male graduate of MacMurray to serve on the College's Board of Trustees. He served on the Intelligence Science Board of the Director of National Intelligence and on the Board of Trustees of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra until he passed in January 2013.

Hackman received numerous fellowships and awards including the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award of the American Psychological Association's division on Industrial and Organizational Psychology, the Distinguished Educator Award and the Distinguished Scholar Award of the Academy of Management, and the Mendelsohn Excellence in Mentoring Award from Harvard Graduate School. In 1998, he was Hewitt Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University.

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