The College of Public Health and Health Professions has named Leslie Morey, Ph.D., the 2020 Outstanding Alumnus of the Year in recognition of exemplary leadership in psychology research and education.
Morey, who received his doctorate in clinical psychology in 1981, is the George T. and Gladys H. Abell Professor of Psychology at Texas A&M University, and is a recognized expert in psychodiagnostic assessment and psychiatric classification. He has served on the faculty at Texas A&M University since 1999, including a term as department head of Psychology from 2006-2010, and he has previously served on the faculty at Vanderbilt University, Harvard Medical School and the Yale University School of Medicine. He has published over 300 articles, books and chapters on the assessment and diagnosis of mental disorders, and his work has been cited in the scientific literature more than 27,000 times, putting him in the top 1% of all researchers in the fields of psychology and psychiatry.
His research has included the development of assessments that have been translated into dozens of languages and are among the most widely used psychodiagnostic measures in the world. His longitudinal studies of personality disorder and its classification and diagnosis culminated in his appointment by the American Psychiatric Association to the DSM-5 Work Group for Personality and Personality Disorders, which proposed a radical reformulation of the official definition of personality disorder that had been in use for 35 years.
His recognitions include the 2016 Distinguished Scientific Contributions to Clinical Psychology Award from the American Psychological Association, the 2017 Bruno Klopfer Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Society for Personality Assessment, the 2016 Presidential Award for Contribution to Methods from the Association for Scientific Advancement in Psychological Injury and Law, the 2013 Psychoanalytic Research Exceptional Contribution Award from the International Psychoanalytic Association, and he was inducted into the National Academy of Practice in Psychology in 2018.
Morey shares some of his UF memories and insights:
Favorite UF memory: It is probably one of my earliest memories at UF. The very first day I arrived in Gainesville to report to graduate school, I presented to Hugh Davis, the training director for clinical psychology, to check in. I don’t think the department quite knew what to do with me, as I had been admitted off the alternate list and when I applied there was really nobody in the department who matched my interests in personality and psychopathology assessment. However, the department had promised a research assistant to a newly arrived assistant professor, so Hugh asked me if I knew anything about computers (this was 1977, four years before the release of the IBM PC). I said that I had a class in PL/1 and had used SPSS and SAS some for undergraduate projects. He said “Well, since I’ve never heard of any of those, you must know something, so you’re assigned to Roger Blashfield as an RA.” I then searched the Shands maze for Blashfield’s office and found this young assistant professor moving in boxes of books, as he had also just arrived that day — so my first research assistant duty was helping him move into his office. That remarkably fortuitous day began a collaboration with an outstanding mentor that very much made my subsequent career possible.
Best lesson learned: Throughout my career I’ve been fortunate to have been presented with remarkable opportunities, and in a number of instances I was able to use those opportunities to help realize significant goals. My UF training presented me with many such situations, and I was lucky to have mentors who facilitated those and encouraged me to be active in pursuing such opportunities, rather than passively waiting for them to occur.
UF faculty member who influenced me the most: Certainly my doctoral advisor, Roger Blashfield, who was the ideal mentor for me both intellectually (given his expertise in psychiatric classification) and personologically (given his patience). I also benefited from strong courses and supervision from clinical psychology faculty such as Hugh Davis, Mary McCaulley, Wiley Rasbury, Jacque Goldman and Paul Satz, as well as from faculty in Psychiatry, particularly John Kuldau. There were also important relationships, in some cases long-lasting, with members of my graduate school cohort. For example, my classmate Mark Waugh and I first published a paper together in 1985, both as newly minted assistant professors; after a bit of a hiatus, we recently reprised that collaboration with a joint publication in 2017!
People would be surprised to know: I’m a bass player, and I’ve played more or less continuously in bands for longer than I’ve done psychology. I’m fairly mediocre at it, but fortunately there is a bigger (if less lucrative) demand for bass players than for psychology professors, so I’m currently gigging with four different bands.