November 26, 2018
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Rowland Shepard, professor emeritus of psychology, died Jan. 7, 2018, in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, at the age of 91.
Born June 9, 1926, in Cincinnati, Rowland Hughes Shepard earned his bachelor’s (1948) and doctorate (1954) from the University of Cincinnati. The first positions he held after receiving his doctorate were as chief psychologist for the Summit County (Ohio) Mental Hygiene Clinic and then as a staff clinical psychologist at the Veterans Administration hospitals in Perry Point, Maryland, and Bedford, Massachusetts. Immediately before joining the College, he had served for several years as a senior clinical psychologist and assistant chief psychologist at a Veterans Administration facility in Brecksville, Ohio.
Shepard came to Kenyon in 1967 to fill two positions at the College, psychologist to the student body and faculty member in the psychology department. His previous experience as an educator included teaching occasional psychology courses at Fenn College (now Cleveland State University) and several nursing schools and directing graduate students’ practicums at Kent State University and the University of Akron. He arrived at Kenyon at a crucial point in its history, just as the College was about to double in size with the admission of women and the advent of coeducation.
During his two decades at Kenyon, Shepard made his mark both in and out of the classroom. He offered popular courses in introductory psychology as well as abnormal and clinical psychology and conducted the department’s “healthy personality” seminar. Most of his counseling time was spent in individual sessions with students.
Shepard found time to engage in group psychotherapy as well, focusing primarily on anxiety management, stress reduction and developing skills necessary to building healthy interpersonal relationships. In addition, he trained peer helpers of all sorts and worked with the college physician to promote healthy behaviors on campus. He also supervised a number of students in the Ohio State University’s graduate program in counseling psychology who worked on campus for a semester.
With Tracy Schermer, Kenyon’s former college physician, Shepard helped to create the integrated health and counseling services at the College. “He was a wonderful collaborator, and a wonderful counselor and mentor,” Schermer recalls. “Rowland loved teaching and exciting students, instilling in many of them the desire to pursue a career in psychology or counseling.
Active in numerous community agencies in the area, Shepard served for many years as a member of the board of directors of the Knox County Mental Health Association and its executive committee. He won election to the Community Mental Health and Retardation Board of Knox and Licking Counties and later served as its liaison to the statewide board. Founder of an emotional-crisis hotline for the area and longtime consultant to Mount Vernon’s Interchurch Social Services, he was also a member of the Bishop’s Commission on Ministry for the Episcopal Diocese of Ohio.
Retiring from Kenyon in 1987, Shepard was awarded an honorary doctorate in science at that year’s Commencement. The citation for the degree, read by his friend and neighbor Harry Clor, now professor emeritus of political science, noted, “You brought to your psychological inquiries those broad ethical and philosophical concerns with which liberal education is identified. And you bring to your colleagues and friends a sympathetic understanding and gentle affection which we cherish.”
Another neighbor, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology Kenneth Smail, remembers Shepard as a friendly presence and “an enthusiastic participant for a few years in the Colonial Classics barbershop chorus, based in Mount Vernon but featuring several College faculty members.” Smail remembers him, too, as someone who cared about the Kenyon student body and “who articulated in faculty meetings and elsewhere his growing concern with what he termed ‘learned helplessness’ among some of our students.”
Professor Emeritus of Psychology Charles Rice recalls that his longtime colleague and friend was a serious sports fan who remained loyal to his hometown Cincinnati Reds while also following the Cleveland Indians. In retirement, Shepard became a popular radio broadcaster in the Cleveland area, playing music of the 1920s and ’30s on a show he called “The Doc and the Duke.”
“Rowland was a scholar,” Rice adds, “and even after retiring he spent many hours in his library. His longtime objective there was to write a book relating Epicurean philosophy to contemporary psychology, a project he worked on into his 90s but sadly never completed.”
Shepard is survived by his wife of 69 years, Lois Stoeckle Shepard; a daughter, Constance “Connie” Shepard Pedley; a son, Rowland Anderson “Andy” Shepard; and five grandchildren.
Interment will be in the College Cemetery.