Drake Bradley

Charles A. Dana Professor of Psychology

Read at the Senior-Faculty Dinner, May 22, 2003, on the occasion of his recognition of service, by President Elaine Tuttle Hansen. Prepared by Professor of Psychology Richard V. Wagner.

Drake Bradley received his B.S. degree from the University of Washington and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the New School for Social Research. He joined the Department of Psychology at Bates College in 1973, rising to the rank of full professor and Charles A. Dana Professor of Psychology during his 30 years on the faculty.

Drake has taught 12 different courses at Bates; however, he is best known for three: a First-Year Seminar in flight simulation, in which fledgling Bates students sometimes landed and often crash landed numerous times in the course of the semester; a course in visual perception, in which illusion upon illusion was presented as evidence of the value of error in understanding the laws of human behavior; and every year, often twice a year, an obstacle course in psychological statistics, in which students learned through theory and simulated practice the wonders of the t-test, various correlations, chi-square and analyses of variance and covariance.

Drake served his department admirably: as acting chair; as statistics and methodological consultant on their own and their students’ research; as front man in the design of the third floor of Pettengill Hall; and as standard bearer for a level of sartorial comfort that suited us all.

Professionally, Drake has received numerous awards, including the True-BASIC’s first prize for his statistical data analysis program, DATASIM, a superb pedagogical package used at Bates as well as numerous other colleges and universities. His primary research fame derives from his studies of the visual illusion known as the subjective contour and his statistical simulation analyses of various statistical analytic procedures. Drake has published in journals as diverse as Behavioral Research Methods and Instrumentation, Perception and Psychophysics, Psychological Bulletin, Nature, and the Journal of Italian Psychology.

A graduate school mentor referred to Drake as a standard deviation above any other graduate student he had taught. A Bates colleague once noted that Drake’s tenure dossier raised expectations for succeeding tenure candidates that same standard deviation. Students eschew such terminology and, instead, have referred to him as a passionate, nurturing, dedicated, enthusiastic, inspiring and open-hearted teacher.

Drake, on behalf of your students, your faculty colleagues and your friends, we are honored to recognize you on the occasion of your retirement from the College and extend our deep appreciation, indebtedness and best wishes.