Scott Hamilton’s legacy lives on at CSU

Portrait of Scott Hamilton.Colleagues remember Emeritus Professor Scott Hamilton as being gregarious, outgoing, and a little unconventional. His regular attire, blues jeans and a t-shirt, was not what one would expect from the chair of the Department of Psychology, however, it spoke to Hamilton’s personality.

Hamilton passed away on July 30, 2020. His memory lives on through his contributions to the department and field, his numerous friends, and his family.

Hamilton’s career at CSU started when he was an undergraduate psychology student, he graduated with his B.S. in 1973. After completing a Ph.D. at the University of Montana he returned to CSU to join the department as an assistant professor in 1978. In his tenure at CSU, Hamilton served in the counseling psychology program where taught undergraduate and graduate courses and mentored graduate students through their Master’s and Doctoral degrees. His primary research was in the areas of the psychology of teaching and the psychology of peace. In particular, he was interested in peace research and how the fear of nuclear war impacted students. His earlier work focused on stress and coping processes as well as behavioral interventions for children. Hamilton authored many important papers that garnered him national and international recognition for his scholarly works.

“Scott was an exceptional teacher,” said Ernie Chavez, friend and former chair of Psychology, who taught alongside Hamilton in an entry level psychology course. Hamilton taught at all levels of the curriculum and particularly enjoyed teaching the freshman introductory psychology course.

His interest in teaching research and innovative teaching methodologies led Hamilton to publish a paper titled The Colossal Neuron: Acting Out Physiological Psychology in the journal of Teaching of Psychology in 1985. The paper examined “how to teach neuron anatomy and physiology via a 2-hour dramatic presentation involving 30 student volunteers.”

Beyond teaching and research, Hamilton’s commitment to the department and deep care for students led him to take on leadership roles. First becoming an associate chair and then advancing to chair of the department in 1993. As chair of the Department of Psychology, Hamilton focused on community building and advancing the department. Colleagues remember Hamilton buying lunches for faculty and staff meetings and hosting department get-togethers at his home.

After his retirement, Hamilton spent his time with his family at the home that he built (literally) in Stove Prairie. He took up tree farming because of his love for nature and his never-ending desire to contribute to the greater good. His wife Patty remarked that Scott was always so pleased every time that a former student or colleague would reach out to ask him a question or seek his advice – an occurrence that happened often.

Scott will be remembered fondly by all who knew him. Including Jan Nerger, dean of the College of Natural Sciences, who knew him well.

“I had the honor of serving as Associate Chair under Scott and was impressed with his positive attitude, profound caring of students, faculty, and staff, and his ability to pull people together even under difficult circumstances. He might have had a casual appearance, but he was a true scholar and leader — humble yet extremely effective,” said Nerger.

Hamilton is survived by his wife, Patty; sons Adam and Seth and daughter-in-law Leslie, as well as his grandkids Layla and Isabelle.