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Farewell Professor Strelau

Farewell Professor Strelau

It is with great sadness and sorrow that we say goodbye to Professor Jan Strelau, a doyen of Polish psychology and a world-renowned expert in psychology of individual differences. Professor Strelau was an unquestionable authority in his field. He exemplified great work ethic and was wholeheartedly devoted to science. He was a wonderful academic teacher, who educated and guided many generations of academics, an exceptional person, and a faithful friend, who always treated others with great respect and attention. To us, he was a mentor and maestro, who will remain in our hearts forever.

Teaching and Research

“Professor Jan Strelau made an outstanding and lasting contribution to the development of science in the field of psychology. His outstanding contributions to psychology are the result of exceptional work ethic, perseverance, the power of concentration, and the ability to gather around him talented scientists focused on goal achievement. For years, Professor Strelau would end his work day, when others were just getting up. His early morning work routine was a self-imposed regime, which knew no exceptions,” remembers Professor Andrzej Eliasz, a long-time colleague and friend of Professor Strelau.

While working towards advancement of Polish science, Professor Strelau initiated and supported the development of many research centers. From 1957 to 2001, he worked at the University of Warsaw’s Faculty of Psychology, where he established a Department of Psychology of Individual Differences and the Interdisciplinary Center for Behavioral Genetics. He led and managed both units until his retirement. Over the years he held numerous positions, including President of the European Association of Personality Psychology (1984-1988), President of the International Society of Psychology of Individual Differences (1993-1995), Vice-President of the International Union of Psychological Science (IUPsyS, 1996-2000), and Vice-President of the Polish Academy of Sciences (2002-2006). He was a member of The Academy of Europe (Academia Europaea), a full member of the Polish Academy of Sciences, and a foreign member of the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters.

Professor Strelau was associated with SWPS University for close to 20 years, and it would be hard to overestimate his contributions to our University. Professor Strelau joined SWPS University after retiring from the University of Warsaw. He became the first Dean of the Faculty of Psychology and for many years held the position of Vice-Rector for Research. Professor Strelau was also the Chair of the Board of Trustees and the Chair of the Honorary Degrees and Recognition Committee at SWPS University. Professor Strelau had a significant impact on the achievements and academic culture of our University. Since the inception of SWPS University, which initially was founded as the School of Social Sciences and Humanities, Professor Strelau worked tirelessly to set the highest standards of education at our institution, which helped us to become the University that we are today. “Professor Strelau was not only one of the greatest Polish researcher in the field of social sciences, but he was also a good spirit behind a variety of scientific initiatives,” reminisces Professor Dariusz Doliński.

It is hard to accept Professor Jan Strelau’s passing. We owe him so much! He was not just an outstanding researcher, but also a mentor, who taught us cooperation and kindness.

Professor Roman Cieślak, Rector of SWPS University

Impressive Research Achievements - Publications

Professor Strelau was a world-class specialist in his field, a pioneer of research on temperament, author of the Regulative Theory of Temperament (RTT). His research results, published both in Poland and abroad, have contributed significantly to the understanding of the role of individual differences in human behavior. He has authored, co-authored and edited close to 300 scientific publications, including 44 books. He was also the author and editor of two academic handbooks, which are used by students all over the country.

Professor Strelau made an outstanding and lasting contribution to the development of science in the field of psychology. His research helped to understand the role of individual differences in human behavior and the results of his work have been permanently included in the global body of knowledge in the field of psychology.

His most important works include:

  • “Różnice indywidualne. Historia – determinanty – zastosowania” (Individual differences. History – determinants – applications) (Scholar, 2014, 2nd edition 2015)
  • “Temperament as a regulator of behavior: After fifty years of research” (Gdańskie Wydawnictwo Psychologiczne, 2006; translated into English by Eliot Werner Publications, 2008)
  • “Psychologia.Podręcznik akademicki” (Psychology. An Academic Handbook) (t. 1 and 2, ed. with: D. Dolińsi, Gdańskie Wydawnictwo Psychologiczne, 2008)
  • “Psychologia.Podręcznik akademicki” (Psychology. An Academic Handbook) (t. 1, 2, and 3, ed., Gdańskie Wydawnictwo Psychologiczne, 2000)
  • “Temperament: A Psychological Perspective” (Plenum Press, 1998)

Awards and Recognition

Professor Strelau’s research and contributions to the field of psychology have been recognized internationally. He received numerous awards and recognitions, including:

  • Professor Tadeusz Kotarbiński, the First Rector of the University of Lodz, award for an outstanding scientific publication in the field of humanities “Individual Differences. History – determinants – applications” (2015)
  • Teofrast Superstar, a lifetime research achievement award (2015)
  • Lifetime Achievement Award from the European Association of Personality Psychology (2012)
  • Commander’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta awarded by President of the Republic of Poland, Bronisław Komorowski (2012)
  • Prime Minister’s Award for Excellence in Research (2010)
  • Foundation for Polish Science Award, also known as the Polish Nobel Prize (2000)
  • New Europe Prize for Higher Education and Research for achievements in academic teaching and research, jointly administered by six Centers for Advanced Studies, including Stanford, Princeton, North Carolina, NIAS, Uppsala and Berlin (1997)
  • Max Plank Research Award (1992)
  • Humboldt Research Award for eminent foreign academics for outstanding achievements in research on personality (1990)

Researchers of temperament in Poland and around the world owe a lot to Professor Strelau. I am one of them. Additionally, I had been honored with his friendship, which allowed me to watch him work and admire his skill in keeping a harmonious balance between strong concentration on wrok tasks and a great care he took of his family and his friendships.

Professor Andrzej Eliasz, first Rector of SWPS University (1996-2016)

Doctor Honoris Causa

The title of Doctor Honoris Causa is awarded to individuals, who have made outstanding contributions to their academic discipline and academic life. Professor Strelau was granted this honorary title by four universities, incluidng: The University of Gdańsk (1996), the Russian State University for the Humanities in Moscow (1998), the Adam Mickiewicz University (2006), and SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities (2016).

In 2013, the University of Warsaw honored Professor Strelau with an official ceremony of renewing his doctorate, which is one of the highest honors bestowed on exceptional academics and researchers on the 50th anniversary of receiving their doctorate.

Professor Eliasz emphasized that such extraordinary success was possible thanks to Professor Strelau’s values and the strength of his character, which allowed him to overcome life challenges with optimism and kindness towards others.

Has the Era of Mentors in Science Already Passed?

Professor Strelau asked this question in his speech, which he delivered on the occasion of receiving the title of Doctor Honoris Causa from SWPS University, in 2016. Professor went on to emphasized the importance of the Mentor-Apprentice relationship, which allowed more experienced academics to pass on their knowledge and experience. He also added that scientific authority should be coupled with moral authority. Professor Strelau also expressed his regret that these types of special relationships were gradually disappearing from academia. However, we, his students who had the honor to know him and work with him, do believe that we can uphold this tradition and continue Professor Strelau’s mission of passing the baton of partnership and cooperation to next generations of students, academics and researchers.