A Brief History
This brief history was e-published in 2012 by the American Psychological Association, Society for the Psychology of Women (Division 35), Great Leaders Series
Phyllis Bronstein was born and grew up in the greater New York area. She graduated from the University of Michigan in 1962, where she also did graduate work in English literature and ceramics, and after winning several prizes for her short stories, decided to be a writer. Her husband's job took them to a Boston suburb, where she planned to write in her spare time, as a stay-at-home mom with a newborn and a toddler. However, she soon discovered that there was barely time for sleeping, let alone writing, and so she pieced together what babysitting she could in that pre-daycare era, and hastened back to graduate school. She received an M.A. in literature and creative writing from Boston University in 1966, and went on to teach those subjects over the next 6 years, mainly at Northeastern University.
When the Women's Movement opened up new possibilities for career choices, she decided that psychology could provide more direct opportunity for implementing social change. And so she returned once again to graduate school, receiving a Ph.D. in social psychology in 1979 from Harvard. Her initial research there was on small group processes (with Robert Freed Bales); however, her later years of graduate study were funded by an NIMH fellowship in cross-cultural human development (with anthropologists Beatrice and John Whiting), which included a year of living in Mexico, doing her dissertation research on parenting and family relationships. In addition, she received clinical training, doing a pre-doctoral internship at a youth guidance center and a post-doctoral internship in ethnicity and mental health at Harvard Medical School. By this time, she was a single parent with three children.
After a year of teaching at Wellesley College, Prof. Bronstein began her 23 years at UVM. In her teaching, she engaged students in dialogue, exercises, and applications that made psychology into a real-world experience. In addition, she stressed the importance of gender, ethnicity, and culture in individual development, and challenged her students and colleagues to become activists in creating a more equitable and just society. Prof. Bronstein mentored many students, involving almost 100 undergraduates in her research, overseeing the research projects of 43 graduate students, and training over 90 clinical doctoral students to be family therapists, in the team-oriented program she developed.
Prof. Bronstein's scholarship has had a dual focus. She has done longitudinal studies of the effects of parenting and socio-cultural factors on child and adolescent development in both the U.S. and Mexico, revisiting the families of her dissertation research for a 27-year follow-up. Her other focus has been on discrimination in academia, and ways to counteract it. One of her books, a groundbreaking resource for integrating gender and multicultural issues into the psychology curriculum that won a national award, has helped to change the way teachers and scholars think about the field. She continues to write and publish in both areas.
Prof. Bronstein's service focused upon creating a more equitable and supportive climate for all faculty. She was a founding member and co-chair of both the Women's Advisory Committee to the Office of Affirmative Action and the President's Commission on the Status of Women, and co-founder of the Faculty Women's Caucus. She also served as Chair of the A&S Faculty Standards Committee, and as Faculty Ombudsperson for the university. In addition, she created and ran the Senate's Faculty Mentoring Program which, by the time she retired, had included over 200 faculty from all corners of the university. She received the Steps Toward Equity Award from the American Association of University Women and the Caring Climate Award and Faculty Woman of the Year Award from UVM, in recognition of her commitment and efforts on behalf of justice and equity.
She and her husband currently live in the San Francisco Bay area, where she teaches part time at San Jose State University.
Official Retirement Citation (2004)
Phyllis Bronstein, you have served the University of Vermont with distinction for 23 years. Your teaching has affected the lives of many students. By engaging them in dialogue, exercises, and applications you turned the study of psychology into a real-world experience. You taught them the importance of gender, ethnicity, and culture in individual development, and challenged your students and all of us to become activists in creating a more equitable and just society.
You mentored many students, involving almost 100 undergraduates in your research, overseeing the research projects of 43 graduate students, and training over 90 clinical doctoral students to be family therapists in the team-oriented program you developed.
Your distinguished research and scholarship has focused on the effects of parenting and socio-cultural factors on child and adolescent development in both the United States and Mexico, and also on discrimination in academia and ways to counteract it, yielding numerous publications in journals and books. One of your books, a groundbreaking resource for integrating gender and multicultural issues into the psychology curriculum, won a national distinguished publication award and has helped to change the way teachers and scholars think about the field.
You were a founding member and co-chair of both the Women's Advisory Committee to the Office of Affirmative Action and the President's Commission on the Status of Women, co-founder of the Faculty Women's Caucus, Chair of the Arts and Sciences Faculty Standards Committee, and Faculty Ombudsperson. In addition, you created and ran the Senate's Faculty Mentoring Program which has included over 200 faculty.