Dan McAdams Named Henry Wade Rogers Professor

Dan McAdams Named Henry Wade Rogers Professor

Dan McAdams

Dan McAdams, professor of psychology and human development and social policy, has been named the Henry Wade Rogers Professor in Psychology. His investiture for the endowed professorship, including a medal ceremony and talk, was December 7 in Annenberg Hall.

McAdams’s main contribution to psychology relates to narrative identity and the "evolving narrative of self inside you that provides your sense of meaning," as he explains. Appropriately since he collects life stories with their high points, low points and turning points, his investiture lecture related concepts in his research, such as generativity, life stories and the idea of redemption, to important themes in his life.

"Key scenes are episodes that stand out in bold text in your life," says McAdams. His talk, entitled "Six High Points," elaborated on themes associated with the following high points in his life: leaving his birthplace of Gary, Indiana; the college seminar where he met his wife; the births of his daughters; coming to Northwestern; writing The Redemptive Self; and chairing the psychology department.

Professor Jim Spillane, chair of the Human Development and Social Policy program, introduced McAdams as a tremendous researcher, teacher and colleague. "He captures the essence of being a great professor," Spillane noted. 

An expert in personality and life-span developmental psychology, McAdams is the chair of the psychology department at Northwestern University. He is also the author of six books, the director of the Foley Center for the Study of Lives and an honoree as a Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence at Northwestern.

McAdams's work focuses on concepts of self and identity in contemporary American society and on themes of power, intimacy, redemption and generativity across the adult life course. He is well-known for formulating a life-story theory of human identity, which maintains that modern adults gain a sense of unity and purpose in their lives by constructing and internalizing self-defining life stories or “personal myths.” McAdams is a leader in the recent emergence within the social sciences of narrative approaches to studying human lives.

McAdams is the author of The Redemptive Self: Stories Americans Live By, which won the 2006 William James Award from the American Psychological Association for best general interest book in psychology and the 2007 Association of American Publishers Award for excellence in professional and scholarly publishing. His latest book is entitled George W. Bush and the Redemptive Dream: A Psychological Portrait. He is also the author of nearly 200 scientific articles and chapters, as well as numerous edited volumes.

McAdams’s professorship is named for Henry Wade Rogers, who was president of Northwestern University from 1890 to 1900. According to the University archives, during that decade Rogers built Northwestern into a more progressive institution by expanding liberal arts studies, emphasizing faculty research and standards matching or exceeding more prestigious universities. Rogers went on the serve as dean of the Yale Law School and judge of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Caption: Dan McAdams poses with deans Penelope Peterson and Sarah Mangelsdoft after receiving his medal as Henry Wad Rogers Professor.

By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 1/17/13