Donald Forgays

Donald Forgays

Donald Forgays (1926-1993)
Emeritus Professor

At UVM 1964-1993
  • B.A. Dartmouth College
  • M.A. McGill University
  • Ph.D. McGill University, 1950

Early Years

Donald Gabriel Forgays was born on September 8, 1926, in Lowell. Massachusetts, and he died the morning of June 6, 1993, in a villa overlooking the hills of Mentana, Italy, where he was in the midst of yet another cross-cultural research project. Don viewed himself and was received as a global citizen both professionally and personally. This obituary speaks of his energetic and demanding dedication to psychology on a world scale.

After he survived his adolescence serving in the armed forces during World War 11, Don earned his BA in psychology from Dartmouth College, then proceeded to McGill University for his MA and PhD degrees as a student of Donald Hebb. Hebb's students were not trained in subspecialties but were trained as general psychologists, knowledgeable in a variety of areas, including learning, neurophysiology, motivation, and social psychology. This early emphasis on the importance of understanding psychology broadly and then developing one's research on the basis of a thorough understanding of the field and its history remained a driving principle behind Don's research career.

After he received his PhD in 1950, Don was on the faculties of Western Michigan. Cornell, and Rutgers universities, a period interrupted by an unexpected tour of duty in the Korean War.

Early in his career. Don earned an international reputation for his pioneering research on early environmental influence on psychological and physiological functioning. His work in this field was the first indication of an enduring ability to grasp the nature of important problems in an area, to discern which might be susceptible to experimental attack, and to exercise his remarkable skill in finding the research design that would ensure a successful approach.

Recruited by UVM

In 1964, Don was recruited by then Vice President Clinton Cook to chair the Department of Psychology at the University of Vermont (UVM). During his tenure as chair, he energetically guided the expansion of the department and its graduate programs. He established the department's doctoral program and was himself the supervisor of the first student to earn a PhD in psychology from UVM in 1967. After leaving the position in !973, Don was able to devote more time to his research and began to develop an ever-expanding research team of international colleagues and students.

A gifted mentor, Don generously gave his knowledge and time to his graduate and undergraduate students in this country and in Italy and Poland. He devoted the last 10 years of his life to the establishment of enduring research programs with colleagues in Italy, Poland, and Australia. always involving graduate students and junior colleagues from all the countries involved. It is this enthusiasm for his field, his ability to integrate new areas of research into a broad knowledge base, and his commitment to excellence in teaching at all levels that will be most greatly missed.

Forgays is survived by his children Janice, Gabrielle, Donal, Ian, Jonathan. and Michael and by his wife Deborah. Donald and Deborah were a great team as partners, parents. and psychologists. We are all grateful for having had the opportunity to share in the good life of Donald G. Forgays.

American Psychologist, February 1995 Vol. 50, No. 2, 104

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