Wallace Honored with Professorship

Ryan Deuel

An extraordinarily generous gift from a loyal Laurentian will endow a permanent teaching position by honoring longtime psychology professor James R. Wallace, above, for his impact on students, children and teachers.

Hilary Ayn Valentine ’89 has contributed $2.5 million to St. Lawrence to establish the James R. Wallace Professorship in Psychology. A graduate of the Class of 1989, Valentine earned a degree in psychology and has supported the Department of Psychology via gifts through the Valentine Foundation Psychology Fund, as well as other University interests. This particularly special fund supports student and faculty research, student participation at conferences and a career library.

“Jim Wallace was a wonderful teacher and mentor to me and many other students at St. Lawrence,” Valentine said. “I have always wanted to honor him appropriately. With his upcoming retirement, I can think of no better way of thanking and honoring him than to establish a professorship in Jim Wallace’s name.”

Wallace, an associate professor of psychology, joined the St. Lawrence faculty in 1974, after earning degrees from the University of Notre Dame and Kent State University. In his 40-plus years of teaching Developmental Psychology, more than 5,000 St. Lawrence graduates have taken his courses.

“When new students arrive at St. Lawrence, I assure them that at some point in their four years they will meet a professor who will become a lifelong intellectual hero to them. Jim Wallace is one of those professors, a fitting example of how professors develop the most powerful, most lasting connection with students at this University,” President William L. Fox ’75 commented.

Until recently, Wallace also led the Developmental Play Group, a program that started with the opening of Flint Hall shortly before he began teaching at St. Lawrence.

“The playgroup took in six to eight students, two hours a day, Monday through Thursday,” Wallace said. “It was a place where students could learn to be objective observers of child behavior.”

As a student, Valentine participated in several collaborative research projects with psychology faculty and worked closely with Professor Wallace in the Developmental Play Group program. That formative experience developed into a lifelong friendship.

Wallace’s teaching excellence has also been recognized with the Owen D. Young Outstanding Faculty Award, voted by the senior class in both 1978 and 1999. Dozens of his publications and presentations list student co-authors. Wallace plans to retire in May 2017.

“Any faculty member would feel great about having an impact on a student that was remembered years later,” Wallace said. “It’s why we’re here and it’s what we do by second nature. I’m truly astonished by this gift.”

The endowment will fund a new tenure-track position in the Department of Psychology. In the first year, a portion of the income will be used to renovate office and lab spaces for the added position. The faculty member selected for the Wallace Professorship will serve a seven-year term.