Oltmanns installed as Edgar James Swift Professor

Thomas F. Oltmanns, Ph.D., a leading researcher on the cognitive and emotional factors behind personality disorders, was installed as the inaugural Edgar James Swift Professor in Arts & Sciences March 16 in Holmes Lounge.

At an installation ceremony March 16 in Holmes Lounge, Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton places a medallion around the neck of Thomas F. Oltmanns, Ph.D., signifying him as the holder of the Edgar James Swift Professorship in Arts & Sciences. Oltmanns is a leading researcher on the cognitive and emotional factors behind personality disorders. Swift founded the University's first stand-alone psychology department in 1924.
At an installation ceremony March 16 in Holmes Lounge, Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton places a medallion around the neck of Thomas F. Oltmanns, Ph.D., signifying him as the holder of the Edgar James Swift Professorship in Arts & Sciences. Oltmanns is a leading researcher on the cognitive and emotional factors behind personality disorders. Swift founded the University’s first stand-alone psychology department in 1924.

The chair is named for the turn-of-the century psychologist who founded the University’s first stand-alone psychology department in 1924.

Oltmanns joined the University in 2003 as a professor of psychology in Arts & Sciences with a joint appointment as professor of psychiatry in the School of Medicine.

“Tom is very well respected in his field, and he already has begun some excellent work here,” said Edward S. Macias, Ph.D., executive vice chancellor and dean of Arts & Sciences. “He’s a very interactive guy who will stimulate our faculty in lots of areas. He provides added leadership to a clinical psychology program here that is already strong and growing.”

He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin in 1972 and a doctorate from the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 1976.

He then began his career as an assistant professor at Indiana University and became a full professor in 1985. He moved to the University of Virginia in 1986 as a professor of psychology and psychiatric medicine.

“Our search committee was especially impressed by the breadth of Oltmanns’ work at Virginia, where he maintained a major research lab and directed the clinical training program in psychology,” said Henry L. Roediger III, Ph.D., the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor and chair of psychology. “Our department is thrilled to have recruited him.”

Oltmanns publishes on topics involving cognitive and emotional factors in psychopathology, including schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder and personality disorders. The National Institute of Mental Health funds his research on the assessment of personality disorders.

Oltmanns supervises students in the clinical training program and teaches undergraduate courses on abnormal and clinical psychology. His abnormal-psychology textbooks, now in their fourth and sixth editions, are used at universities around the world.

While most of his professional time is spent doing research and teaching, he also is a licensed clinical psychologist who remains active in patient care. He specializes in cognitive behavior therapy for the treatment of people with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

He has held editorial roles for the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, the Journal of Personality Disorders and Psychological Bulletin, and has held leadership positions with the Council of University Directors of Clinical Psychology, the Academy of Psychological Clinical Science and the Society for Research in Psychopathology. He was elected president of the Society for a Science of Clinical Psychology in 1993.

His service on national scientific advisory committees includes terms with the National Institutes of Health’s research review committee for adult psychopathology and disorders of aging.

He is a member of the NASA Astronaut Selection Psychiatric Standards Working Group and has served on two committees for the Institute of Medicine — the Committee on Aerospace Medicine of Extreme Environments and the Committee on the Longitudinal Study of Astronaut Health.

Swift was born in Ravenna, Ohio, in 1860. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Amherst College in 1886 and spent several years studying in Europe.

From 1895-1900, he was at Stevens Point Normal School, where he began publishing works in psychology and education. After earning a doctorate from Clark University in 1903, Swift joined Washington University as the first chair of psychology and education.

After the University created separate departments of psychology and education in 1924, Swift continued as head of the Department of Psychology until his retirement in 1931. He died in 1932.

Leave a Comment

Comments and respectful dialogue are encouraged, but content will be moderated. Please, no personal attacks, obscenity or profanity, selling of commercial products, or endorsements of political candidates or positions. We reserve the right to remove any inappropriate comments. We also cannot address individual medical concerns or provide medical advice in this forum.