Mentor Tributes

I have been greatly blessed in my life to work with a few wonderful mentors. The mentoring process is a deeply meaningful, and even personal, relationship. As I look back, there are many people who have served as mentors to me on particular aspects of my life and professional development. However, there were three individuals whose mentoring deeply impacted me personally and professionally for whom I have written tributes.

First, Robert J. Murney was an important mentor to me during my internship, postdoc, and early professional career. I wrote two tributes to him that are published here. The first was written the day he died, and the second was a later reflection on the important role he played in my life.

Robert J. Murney, PhD Tribute
Robert J. Murney Tribute Part 2 – Six Months Later

Second, James F. T. Bugental was a different kind of mentor for me. I met Bugental after he had a stroke that greatly impacted his cognitive functioning, particularly his memory. Although I did not know Bugental as well or work with him as closely, as he was one of the most influential figures in the existential psychology movement in the United States, the relationship was deeply meaningful. He provided a direct connection to the origins of existential psychology, which has been my own psychological home in my career. Additionally, the interactions I did have with Jim were ones that I will never forget.

James F. T. Bugental Tribute

Third, H. Newton Malony was my graduate advisor and became an important mentor to me. In many ways, I did not fully recognize the depth of his influence on me until after I graduated and he invited me to work with him to edit some of his papers into a book. As I wrote my reflections upon his influence upon me in the Introduction to this book, I gained more appreciation for the many ways my approach to teaching and my own role as a mentor of graduate students and young professionals was impacted by Newt.

We dishonor those early influential thinkers in our movement when we turn them into idols. We distort the message they were bringing to us and the message they lived in their lives. I believe (and hope) that if these figures were around today that their harshest critiques would be of the way we over-revere their contributions. We love and honor our heroes when we recognize their humanity. To be revered as an idol or infallible scholar is much less of an honor than to be revered as a human who within all the limitations of being human rose to contribute a unique voice and make an important, though imperfect, contribution worthy of a lasting influence on the history of humankind.

— Louis Hoffman, The Proper Use of Tradition and Scholarly Authority