I visited for several days in early August 1955. Thurstone and I discussed progress on several joint research projects. Swimming was also on the agenda, and the Thurstone boys tried their best (without success) to teach me to water ski. I was puzzled during that visit by the tone of some of Thurstone's conversation. For example, he commented about the role of Principal Investigator on research funds, noting that I should jealously guard the authority for expending money, especially against department chairs and deans. He wondered aloud if he had chosen correctly at UNC to affiliate with the Psychology Department rather than with the Institute of Statistics. Only later did I recognize that, from his perspective, this may have resembled a deathbed discussion. I wrote Thurstone letters on August 22 and August 29, 1955, but received no reply. When I learned that he died on September 19, I was stunned and saddened.
Thelma Gwinn Thurstone, when asked by the University administration at UNC to succeed L. L. Thurstone as Director of the Psychometric Laboratory, agreed to be Acting Director for a short term, to fulfill commitments under terms of unexpired research grants and contracts; she firmly declined to continue for a longer term. Thus, one other surprise awaited me in 1957, when I was asked to join the faculty and become Director of the Psychometric Laboratory at UNC. I have never regretted doing so, in large part because it provided the opportunity to maintain a program of education and research that was so firmly and competently established by L. L. Thurstone.
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Publication information: Book title: Portraits of Pioneers in Psychology. Volume: 3. Contributors: Gregory A. Kimble - Editor, Michael C. Wertheimer - Editor. Publisher: American Psychological Association. Place of publication: Washington, DC. Publication year: 1998. Page number: 101.
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