18 May 2017

Larry Stettner's obituary, a most beloved member of our faculty.

Larry Stettner  (1938-2017)

     Dr. Larry Stettner, retired Wayne State University Psychology Professor and past President of WSU’s AAUP, died after a heart attack in Southwest Harbor, Maine, on May 1, 2017.  Born in Brooklyn and an honors graduate of Brooklyn College, he received his Ph.D. in Psychology from Stanford University in 1963.  Hired into the Biopsychology Area of the WSU Psychology Department, he and his family moved to Detroit.  In 1967, he was awarded a year’s leave and an NIH grant for research at the NIH Lab in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  His research interests early in his career involved animal models.  He studied learning in birds after brain lesions and co-authored a widely reprinted 1968 paper in Scientific American, “The Brain of Birds”.  His teaching and research reflected his ethological perspective.  His course on animal behavior was popular and former students report that his primatology course was unforgettable.  He formed an affiliation with the Detroit Zoo that allowed his students to carry out observational studies of primates.  In one course, students studied a troop with female adults, but no male adults, and watched leaders emerge.  Later in his career he focused on several aspects of human behavior: human sexuality, facial expressions of emotion, and alexithymia.  One of his frequent collaborators in the study of alexithymia was Dr. Mark Lumley.

     Larry was active in establishing the faculty union at WSU, was a member of the union’s negotiating team many times, and served as AAUP President.  He greatly enjoyed teaching and was known as one of the most accepting, supportive professors in the Department.  Absolutely exuberant about his subject matter and his students, he received the President’s Excellence in Teaching Award in 1987.  The framed award document was proudly displayed in his office until he retired and then in his home study in Maine. 
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