Dr. Robert E. Lana, a longtime professor and department head of Temple’s psychology department, died Oct. 17 after battling respiratory and cardiac problems. He was 74 years old.
Lana, who is survived by his wife, daughter and grandson, taught social psychology
at Temple for more than 39 years before retiring in 2005.
“He was the reason why I came to Temple,” said retired psychology professor Ralph L. Rosnow. “He was an extraordinary teacher, mentor, scholar and administrator.”
Prior to joining Temple’s faculty in 1966, the New Jersey native taught at Alfred University in New York and American University in Washington, D.C. He wrote and published two academic books, “Assumptions of Social Psychology” and “The Foundations of Psychological Theory.”
“In his two major books, he explored the nature of causal reasoning with a degree of clarity that few social scientists have achieved,” Rosnow said. “He had a profound understanding of the historical and philosophical roots of modern psychology and he was able to make the most complex issues transparent and comprehensible.”
In 1970, Lana became chairman of Temple’s psychology department, specializing in philosophical psychology and statistics. He also served as the dean of graduate studies from 1981 until 1986 and remained with the department until his retirement last year.
In addition to being a Fulbright scholar, Lana was also a recipient of the Distinguished Contributions to the Science of Psychology Award in 1998 by the Pennsylvania Psychological Association.
“He really affected the lives of other professors and students here in the sense that for many years he was the heart and soul of the [psychology] department,” said Dr. Willis Overton, chair of the department of psychology.
“He really moved the department towards the modern scientific era.”
Lana was also a well-respected aerophilatelist who specialized in post-Sardinian and Italian aerophilately.
He won several awards for his work including the American Air Mail Society’s Walter J. Conrath Award in 1999 for his outstanding tenure as president, director and chairman of AAMS.
Maya Davis can be reached at maya.davis @temple.edu.