By Dr. Courtney Keim
Assistant Professor of Psychology
Psychology professors pictured at top, left to right: Dr. Joy Jacobs-Lawson, Dr. Christy Wolfe, Dr. Ann Jirkovsky, Dr. Frank Schmidt, and Dr. Courtney Keim
Dr. Frank Schmidt, one of the most prolific and well-known psychologists, recently passed away in Iowa. Frank and I shared something in common: we were both trained as Industrial-Organizational (I-O) Psychologists and we both call Bellarmine University
I-O Psychology applies the
science of psychology to the workplace. We study how to make workers and organizations be well and perform well. Shortly after I started at Bellarmine in 2012, I worked on an I-O research project that was a meta-analysis (aka a study of studies),
where my coauthors and I combined over 65 studies to identify reasons why workers may be stressed about losing their jobs.
When it came time to meta-analyze our data, we used the most common method in psychology: the Hunter-Schmidt meta-analytic approach, created by Jack Hunter and Frank Schmidt. After years of hard work, tenacity, and determination, our research was accepted
for publication, and also importantly, I knew a lot about Frank Schmidt’s work.
It wasn’t until later that I read a story in the Psychology department mail room and learned that Frank graduated from Bellarmine College in 1966 and served a term on the university's Board of Trustees. I couldn’t believe that one of the most prominent I-O Psychologists was once walking Pasteur
Hall as a student, the same Hall where I now teach students Introduction to I-O Psychology! The same man whose work I read so intently and cited in my own study!
Later, I was fortunate to meet Frank at a conference in April of 2015 where he was honored for a lifetime achievement award. I nervously introduced myself, and told him that I was teaching at Bellarmine University, his alma mater. He was gracious and
warm, but also steely and slightly intimidating. I invited him to come speak to our students one day, were he ever back to Louisville.
would have it, that fall Frank was inducted into the Bellarmine Alumni Gallery of Distinguished Graduates. While he was in town being honored, Frank was kind enough to meet with psychology students and faculty and talk to us about his time in Louisville
and at Bellarmine.
Frank was born in Louisville in 1944 and grew up on a farm in Jeffersontown, the oldest of 6 children. He came to Bellarmine in 1962 with an interest in biology, but as a sophomore he became more interested in psychology and measurement.
Frank remembered his psychology professors fondly. He said that Dr. Robert Munson, had a “really ebullient personality, always upbeat”, and would meet with Frank and frequently talk with him outside of class. Frank said Dr. Munson cared a
lot about students and really helped Frank know what to expect of graduate school. These accolades are not surprising to those who knew Dr. Munson. In fact, the Psychology department continues to pay tribute to Dr. Munson by naming the Bellarmine
College Faculty Merit Award to a graduating senior in Psychology in his honor.
Frank also fondly remembered Fr. Joseph Voor, who supervised Frank’s senior Psychology research project, which was later published in the prestigious "Journal of Applied Psychology." Dr. Voor was Bellarmine’s first professor of Psychology
and taught at the university until 1975. A plaque honoring Father Voor can be found in the Hall outside the Psychology Research Lab in Pasteur 161.
After leaving Bellarmine, Frank went on to get his MS and PhD at Purdue University, teach at Michigan State, work at the Office of Personnel Management for the federal government, and ultimately end his career at the University of Iowa. His supervision
of students, teaching, awards, publications, and other works as an I-O psychologist identify him as a living legend in his field. He had over 200 publications and 76,000 citations from other empirical research articles.
And that famous meta-analysis book he is most well-known for? Before Frank left Louisville in the Fall of 2015, he made sure to donate a copy of his book to the Bellarmine Psychology department faculty and students. The inscription reads:
To the students and faculty of the Bellarmine Psychology Department, my old home at Bellarmine. From Frank Schmidt, 1966 Graduate.
The psychology department sends our sincere condolences to Frank’s friends and family. And while not all of our graduates end up having as many accolades and awards as Frank, we do think a Bellarmine Psychology degree prepares our students to make
a great impact on their communities, families, and friends. And Frank was evidence of that.