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Wright, Beatrice

Beatrice
Wright, PhD
Year Inducted: 
1971
Beatrice Wright
Highlights: 
  • Author of Physical Disability: A Psychosocial Approach, the premier text in the field of rehabilitation psychology
  • 1968: 66 field professionals rated her text “the outstanding contribution in its field” out of an evaluation of 76 significant works
  • Barred from being on the KU faculty until 1963 and not made a full professor until 1967 because she was a woman
  • Recipient of the Distinguished Alumna Award from the University of Iowa
  • 1984: received the Irvin Youngberg Award for Achievement in Applied Sciences
  • Pledged $50,000 to the Beatrice A Wright Scholarship in Health and Rehabilitation Psychology named in her honor
  • 1996: Beatrice A Wright Faculty Scholar in Clinical Psychology professorship established in her honor
Biography: 

Beatrice Wright, professor of Psychology at KU, did much as a pioneer in her profession and a leading scholar on physical disability and rehabilitation psychology.  She authored the premier book on that field, and was a noted professor, researcher, lecturer, humanitarian, and philanthropist.

Dr. Wright received her undergraduate degree in 1938 from Brooklyn College and her PhD in 1942 from the University of  Iowa.  While she and her husband came to the University of Kansas in 1951 to both be psychology professors, as a female she was barred from being on the KU faculty until 1963 and was not made a full professor until 1967.  Years later, Dr. Wright noted: “It is gratifying to see how far society has come in recognizing the right of women to pursue their education and careers.  And yet, all of us need to be reminded of how far we have yet to go in overcoming the barriers of prejudice that stand in the way of affirming the potential of so many people.”

Dr. Wright was an outstanding scholar and humanitarian.  She co-authored over 50 articles and six books, one of which, Physical Disability: A Psychosocial Approach, is considered a classic in the field of rehabilitation psychology; it was rated by 66 professionals in 1968 as “the outstanding contribution in its field” out of an evaluation of 76 significant works.  Dr. Charles Snyder, former professor of psychology and director of the clinical psychology program, noted, “Her work helped to break down prejudices against people with disabilities by applying her understanding of constructive views of life with a disability to real-life problems.”

She received awards from the American Psychological Association, the American Rehabilitation Counseling Association, and the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine, and the University of Iowa, whom she received a distinguished alumna award from.  In 1984, she received the Irvin Youngberg Award for achievement in applied sciences, which carried a $10,000 stipend to further her research.

She retired from teaching in 1988 at the age of 70; the Beatrice A Wright Scholarship in Health and Rehabilitation Psychology was named in honor, to which she herself pledged $50,000 to help fund in 1997.   This was not the first time she had supported KU financially; she made many gifts to the arts, Women’s Studies, the Williams Fund for athletes, and retired faculty.  In 1996, a professorship, the Beatrice A Wright Faculty Scholar in Clinical Psychology, was also established in her honor.

Following KU, she remained an honorary fellow and worked as a senior lecturer in the department of rehabilitation psychology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.  She also continued to lecture and consult nationally, primarily on the area of physical disabilities but also on how to alter negative views of aging.


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