Etzel, Barbara

Barbara C.
Etzel, PhD
Year Inducted: 
1975
Highlights: 
  • Director of KU’s Center for Research in Early Childhood Education
  • Special Fellow for the Secretary on Early Development and Learning of the NIMH
  • Author of books New Developments in Behavioral Research: Theory, Methods, and Applications and Social Interaction Observation: A Manual for Training and Data Collection
  • Associate Dean of the Office of Research Administration, Associate Dean of the Graduate School, and Acting Dean of the Office of Research Administration
  • 1981: honored with the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Award for work
Biography: 

Barbara Etzel, University of Kansas Professor Emeritus of Human Development and Family Life, has served for many years as a wonderful teacher, scholar, and leader in the Behavioral Psychology Department at the University of Kansas.  As Dr. Jan Sheldon, a fellow Professor in the school who was particularly influenced by Dr. Etzel, remembered upon first meeting her as an undergraduate and being “awe-struck by her professional demeanor, articulate and informative speech, and her ability to command the attention of everyone in the room…I knew immediately that I wanted to be just like her!”

Dr. Etzel earned her Associate’s degree from Stephens College in 1946, her BA from Denison University in 1948, her MA in General Experimental Psychology from the University of Miami (Florida) in 1950, and her PhD in Developmental & Child Psychology in 1953 from Iowa State University.

She served as Staff Psychologist for the Ohio State Bureau of Juvenile Research (1953-1954) and Chief Psychologist at Washington Medical School at Seattle (1957-1961). She taught at both Florida State University and Western Washington State College before coming to the University of Kansas in the Fall of 1965. Immediately before arriving at KU, she served as a Special Fellow for the Secretary on Early Development and Learning, part of the National Institutes of Mental Health in Washington, D.C.

As a scholar at the University, Dr. Etzel has written numerous publications, chapters, and papers. She is the author of two books, New Developments in Behavioral Research: Theory, Methods, and Applications and Social Interaction Observation: A Manual for Training and Data Collection.  She has also excelled in front of the classroom; she was nominated as an outstanding teacher for the HOPE Award in 1981.

Dr. Etzel worked diligently for several years as the Director of KU’s Center for Research in Early Childhood Education, one of eight constituting a federally-funded national laboratory.  After retiring from that position, she remained Director of the preschool laboratory in Haworth Hall.  She also served for periods as the Director of the Edna A. Hill Child Development Laboratories, Co-Director of the KU Head Start Center, and Co-Director of the Discrimination and Computer Learning Center. 

Dr. Etzel’s exemplary leadership at the University of Kansas expanded far past her research interests.  She served as Associate Dean of the Office of Research Administration from 1972-1973, Associate Dean of the Graduate School from 1972-1974, and Acting Dean of the Office of Research Administration in 1974, on top of serving on a plethora of University committees.

In 1981, Dr. Etzel was honored with the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Award for her work in developing methods to teach children with learning disabilities.  The award allowed her to stay with the Japanese government for a month for a tour in which she lectured not only scholars, but also the parents and teachers of children with learning disabilities.

She has been a member of many professional organizations, such as the American Psychological Association, Society for Research in Child Development, American Association of University Professors, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Association for Behavioral Analysis, American Educational Research Association, Southwestern Society for Research in Human Development, and the Midwestern Psychological Association.  In 1975, she was elected to Fellow status for Division 25 of the American Psychological Association.  She has also served as a consultant for many programs and been the editor for many professional journals.


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