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Popular Psychology Professor To Leave

Social psychologistEpley will take new jobat University of Chicago

By Ella A. Hoffman, Crimson Staff Writer

A social psychologist voted one of Harvard students’ “Favorite Professors” for the past two years plans to leave Cambridge at the end of 2004 to take up a new position in the Windy City.

Nicholas Epley, assistant professor of psychology, will depart Harvard to join the faculty of the University of Chicago Business School where he will become an associate professor of behavioral sciences starting on Jan. 1, 2005.

Epley is well-known among undergraduates for teaching such courses as Psychology 15, “Social Psychology” and Psychology 1552, “Social Judgement.” His CUE Guide ratings have been consistently high—for “Social Psychology” last year he earned a 4.8 out of 5 for his instruction.

The Class of 2003 and Class of 2004 have voted Epley one of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences’ (FAS) “Favorite Professors.”

Colleagues agreed that Epley will be sorely missed.

“Nick Epley is quite simply the finest junior faculty member with whom I have ever served,” Professor of Psychology Daniel Gilbert said. “I am very much hoping there is a very, very cold winter in Chicago next winter because we’d love to have him back.”

Epley, who arrived at Harvard in July 2001, attributed his decision to leave Harvard to a combination of career, family and financial considerations.

He said he was not scheduled to come up for tenure at Harvard for at least five years.

Epley wrote in an e-mail that he is “bittersweet” at the prospect of leaving. “I have nothing but warm feelings for Harvard, at all levels from the students to my faculty colleagues to the administration,” he said.

During Epley’s short time at Harvard he has made a mark on the psychology department, colleagues said.

“Nick Epley is the type of colleague one dreams about,” wrote Mahzarin R. Banaji, Cabot professor of social ethics and Pforzheimer professor. “Intellectually provocative and tenacious, with a stellar ability to teach at any level.”

Although the leap from teaching undergraduates to MBAs may seem incongruous for a psychologist, the faculty of the University of Chicago Business School is heavily populated with people from the basic disciplines, Epley said.

At Harvard, Epley has focused his research on factors influencing human judgement and reasoning.

“He represents a new generation of social psychologists whose work is valued highly by schools of business, and FAS departments are going to have to work increasingly harder to keep people like Epley within the school,” wrote Banaji in an e-mail.

And Epley said it will not be easy for him to leave Harvard, and he will particularly miss teaching undergraduates.

“Teaching the undergrads was like getting a hug almost every lecture,” Epley wrote in an e-mail.

Though Epley said he is unenthusiastic about the prospect of teaching MBAs, he added that his new job comes with other rewards including an increased salary and research funding available through the university instead of having to write grants.

Staff writer Ella A. Hoffman can be reached at ehoffman@fas.harvard.edu.

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