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Remembering Professor Emeritus H.G. (Bart) Osburn

H. G. (Bart) Osburn

The Industrial-Organizational Psychology field lost a consummate scientist – practitioner, teacher and mentor to a whole generation of I/O psychologists when Bart Osburn passed away July 31, 2013 at age 91 in Norman OK. The breadth and depth of his professional contributions are impressive by any measure. Following his University of Michigan Ph.D. in 1952, Bart worked with the Army, and then HumRRO, on military research from 1953-57. He then served on the Southern Illinois University faculty from 1957 until joining the University of Houston in 1960. He continued teaching, advising, and publishing important work through 2000 after “officially” retiring in 1991. A Fellow of Divisions 5 and 14 and Diplomate in Industrial Psychology, he was named Professor Emeritus in 1999 and was further honored in 2000 when his students established the Bart Osburn Endowment for I/O Psychology.

Bart’s vita reveals 49 publications, 43 technical reports, and 39 papers presented to a variety of professional organizations. This body of work spanned many areas including psychological scale construction, configural test scoring methods, computer aided teaching, computer aided test construction, media effects on public attitudes , improving reliability coefficient accuracy, ethnic differences in test performance, biographical form faking, behaviorally anchored rating scales, validity generalization, improving interview validity, job characteristics that moderate validity, and validating physical strength requirements of jobs. In addition to his many contributions to University Committees and the Psychology Dept., Bart even chaired the Computer Science Dept. one year. He consulted for 18 organizations including the VA, Peace Corp., retailers, home builders, hospitals, FedEx, and many energy companies including long term relationships with Exxon and Shell, and their internships.

Perhaps his greatest contribution lies in what he did to educate, encourage, support and guide a generation of people who he enabled to have successful careers as academicians, practitioners, and consultants in I/O. He taught beginning and advanced statistics, psychometrics, and a variety of I/O topic seminars that grounded professionals in the essential knowledge needed to succeed. Bart chaired 20 Masters Theses and 31 Doctoral Dissertations from 1958 to 2000. His legacy continues in all those whom he helped with his unwavering support over the years. In his remembrance here is what students had to say:

  • For many, a dissertation is not a positive experience, but mine could not have been more enjoyable.
  • Bart was an incredible role model as a psychologist, teacher, mentor, and consultant, but more importantly as an ethical, caring, principled person who was funny, wise, stern when needed, and compassionate.
  • He was patient and encouraging, and never condescending or critical.
  • The great respect he engendered would drive you to want to be successful in your work with him.
  • He had a quick mind and a quicker smile.
  • He was the best as a professor, mentor and person that you could ask for- always available and listening.

Tribute written by
Dr. John Callender
I/O Psychology Ph.D. 1978.

To donate online, navigate to department website

Or go directly to the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (CLASS) Online Gifts Form

In the section of Gift Information, click on the "Department or Program" pull down menu and scroll down and select "Psychology". You can then leave an instruction in the box to “designate your gift further” by typing in “Osburn Endowment for I/O Psychology”. In the next section, you can also fill in that this gift is in memory of “Dr. Hobart G. Osburn”.

If you contribute by check, make the check payable to the University of Houston, and designate that you would like to contribute to the “Osburn Endowment for I/O Psychology” in the memo field. You can send the check to:

Director of Advancement
University of Houston
Department of Psychology
126 Heyne Bldg
Houston, TX 77204-5022
Tel: 713/743-8522