Full Circle: Psychology Professor Invested as Chair Named in Honor of Longtime Mentor
As a world-class scholar, late Illinois Institute of Technology Distinguished Professor Nambury S. Raju made an impact not just for his decades-long contributions to the field of psychology and for his leadership at the university—including serving on various committees and editorial boards, as well as serving as director of Illinois Tech’s Center for Research and Service—but also for his warm heart, strong intellect, and unflagging integrity.
The Nambury S. Raju Endowed Chair in Psychology was created after his passing in 2005 to honor Raju’s memory. On February 7, 2023, Illinois Tech invested Professor of Psychology Scott Morris as the Nambury S. Raju Endowed Chair in Psychology.
“It’s such an honor to be recognized for my work and to be given that position of status,” says Morris. “On a personal level, Nam Raju was an important influence on my early career. I actually was originally hired when he left Illinois Tech, but he was very kind and generous in helping me get started, especially in terms of teaching some of the courses he had taught. A few years later, we were able to ‘woo’ him back to the university, and we worked together for many years. He was a great colleague and mentor.”
A professor at Illinois Tech since 1994, Morris followed in Raju’s footsteps in a number of ways. In addition to conducting research in many of the same areas, Morris has served as both the associate and interim chair of the Department of Psychology and is currently the director of the Industrial-Organizational Psychology program, a position previously held by Raju.
“I taught a lot of the same courses that he taught,” says Morris. “We had somewhat overlapping research interests. I learned a lot from being on his students’ committees about areas that I eventually went into myself.”
Morris’ research in the field of industrial-organization psychology partly consists of fairness in discrimination and employment decisions, as well as measuring disparities in employment outcomes. One area of his research that has garnered considerable recognition, however, is his work in meta-analysis: a specialty that he shares with Raju. The goal of meta-analysis is to allow researchers to combine data from a wide range of studies to get a summary of common results, despite many studies being designed and conducted in different fashions.
Put more simply, Morris’ work in meta-analysis aims to make an apples-to-apples correlation of various research. Previously, research had to rely on incompatible apples-to-oranges comparisons when combined.
“You have apples and oranges, and people are mixing them together,” says Morris. “I showed that you can either translate everything to make them all apples or make them all oranges. Therefore, you can come up with a consistent metric that would allow you to do statistical analysis.”
This work has been used by hundreds of researchers around the world in a large number of different disciplines. Moving forward, Morris is excited about the possibilities that will be opened by his new position as an endowed chair, both for his own research and to help out current and future students at Illinois Tech.
“It’s just going to provide additional resources that are going to allow me to accelerate the research and to support student projects,” says Morris. “Really, it’s just a matter of resources to do more.”