Skip to main content


Professor Jerry Burger retires from the Psychology Department after 34 Years

This quarter the Psychology Department celebrated the contributions and career of our retiring colleague, Jerry Burger, at one of his favorite venues on campus - Schott Stadium - watching the Santa Clara men’s baseball team.

Over almost four decades at SCU, Dr. Burger has made a tremendous impact. His research has made a significant contribution to the field of personality and social psychology. He has published more than 100 articles, chapters and books during his career. One investigation identified him as among the most prolific researchers in his field between 1980 and 1989, the first decade of his career. That investigation found that he was the decade’s fourth most published scholar in social psychology’s most prestigious journals. Dr. Burger’s publications include a pair of books that summarized two programs of his research, Desire for Control: Personality, Social, and Clinical Perspectives (Plenum, 1992) and Returning Home: Connecting with Our Childhoods (Rowman-Littlefield, 2011).

 Dr. Burger’s research has received a significant amount of recognition both within and outside academia. In January 2009, American Psychologist took the unprecedented step of devoting an entire issue to his research and comments about his research. For instance, Dr. Burger has been invited to give countless colloquia presentations at universities around the country, and has been awarded Fellow status by the American Psychological Association and the Society for Experimental Social Psychology. Dr. Burger’s scholarship has also been widely recognized outside of academia. For example, his research on obedience to authority was the subject of an hour-long broadcast on ABC News’Primetime, and also the subject of a New York Times editorial, and newspaper articles about the work have been listed among the most widely read and most frequently forwarded stories of the year. His research also has been the subject of a Discovery Channel documentary.

Teaching has always been one of Dr. Burger’s strengths. For several years, starting in 2003, he served as the first “Faculty Development Professor,” a mentoring program organized by the Provost’s office in which faculty members from across the university routinely sat in on his classes and met with him to discuss teaching effectiveness. Outside the classroom, Dr. Burger has mentored a countless number of students as part of his research program. To date, 72 students have served as co-authors on papers published in highly respectable journals (2 students were co-authors on two papers). Dozens of others have presented research at professional conferences, and many more have presented their work at undergraduate conferences. Dr. Burger also is the sole author of an undergraduate textbook, Personality (Wadsworth/Cengage), now in its 10th edition. For several editions, it has been the best-selling or one of the best-selling textbooks in its field. In 2011, Dr. Burger was honored for his teaching by the College of Arts and Sciences with the David E. Logothetti Teaching Award.