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Department ofPsychology


Bob Numan

Bob Numan

Professor Bob Numan retires after a 43-year long career

This spring, Professor Bob Numan will retire, ending a 43-year long career. Throughout his time at Santa Clara, Dr. Numan has influenced the direction of the psychology department as well as the university through his dedication to teaching and mentoring students, his distinguished accomplishments in research, and his substantial advocacy for support and justice for all faculty. Across the campus, so many have benefited so much from the work and support of this one individual.

As the first neuroscientist hired at Santa Clara and the first wet-lab scientist in Psychology, Dr. Numan secured funding and designed courses to increase the academic rigor of the major. He introduced and regularly taught a lab class for majors (Physiological Psychology). With the development of the new core in 2009, Dr. Numan created and taught a very popular natural science core lab course for non-majors (Behavioral Neuroscience) to introduce a variety of students to the science of the brain. His courses are challenging and he is respected by faculty and students alike. He also created and directed the psychobiology program at SCU starting in 1980. This emphasis in the psychology major required additional math, biology, and chemistry courses and was popular with psychology majors interested in pursuing medical degrees or doctorates. With Dr. Numan’s guidance, this program became the interdisciplinary neuroscience major in 2017, drawing on cooperation among many departments, particularly Psychology and Biology, hiring two new neuroscientists, and attracting 55 majors in the first year.

Among Dr. Numan’s 30 scholarly publications, several of which included student researchers, 12 published abstracts, and two federally funded external grants, his enduring scholarly contributions are related to organization and function of the septal region, a part of the brain involved in regulation of memory and emotion. Dr. Numan published a seminal book on the septal region with first-rate scientific publisher, Springer, in 2000. The chapters of this book, written by leading figures in behavioral neuroscience, review the anatomy, neurochemistry, physiology, and behavioral relations in the septal area. True to Dr. Numan’s character and dedication to scholarship, he secured a contract to edit that book while his lab was temporarily closed during construction in Alumni Science renovation project (1997-1999). Recognized by his colleagues for his sustained research program, Dr. Numan was awarded the Professor Joseph Bayma Scholarship Award from the College of Arts and Sciences in 2005.

Dr. Numan served as chair of the psychology department twice in his career, and chaired many committees in the College and University throughout his tenure. Always an advocate for the teacher-scholar model and fair treatment of faculty, his most significant and time-consuming service contributions have come in the twilight of his career, when many others choose to withdraw from University life. Especially notable are his contributions to the WASC Teaching-Scholar Committee (2007-10), the University Budget Council (2014) and his efforts as Faculty Senate President (2015-16). Without fail, we could always count on Dr. Numan to promote our best interests to the administration.

With his retirement this year, Dr. Numan will have more time to spend with his beloved horse, and will gift Santa Clara with a legacy of rigorous approach to psychological science, and genuine support and mentorship for the faculty who follow in his footsteps.