John Milholland

John E. Milholland, professor emeritus of psychology, died Oct. 13. He was born April 18, 1910, in Paris, Ill.

Milholland graduated from Colorado State Teachers College (now Northern Colorado University) in 1932. Jobs were scarce in 1932 due to the depression, and John sold Remington Rand typewriters before returning to Colorado State Teachers College, where he received his master’s degree in 1939. In 1936 he married Zell Summers. She died in 1974.

Milholland’s teaching career began in 1938 at Central High School in Flint, Mich., but World War II intervened, and in 1943 he joined the Navy where he served as an Air Navigation Instructor. In 1946 he returned to Flint and taught mathematics at Flint Junior College. In 1949 he came to Ann Arbor to begin work on his Ph.D. in mathematical psychology, which was awarded in 1953. Milholland began teaching statistics in the Department of Psychology while still a graduate student and continued as a full-time faculty member after receiving his doctorate, rising through the ranks to become a professor in 1961. He served as chief of the Evaluation and Examinations Division of the Bureau of Psychological Services 1956–64.

Milholland was an able and responsible administrator, chairing the undergraduate program of the department for many years. Whether interacting with students, staff or chairs of departments, he was always cooperative. His conscientiousness and careful management contributed much to the good reputation of the undergraduate program both locally and nationally.

He was a model citizen of the University; he also contributed to numerous national commissions and committees, co-chairing a national project to develop model curricula for psychology, serving as program chairman of the American Educational Research Association and as associate director for research of the first National Assessment of Educational Progress. Despite his modesty, he was elected president of the American Psychological Association Division on the Teaching of Psychology.

Milholland joined Robert Isaacson, W.K. McKeachie, Richard Mann and Yi Guang Lin in obtaining funding and carrying out major research programs in teaching and learning in university courses. The publications resulting from this research were among the first to deal with the interaction of student and teacher personality characteristics as well as gender in affecting student achievement.

As a spiker on the championship Psychology Department volleyball team, he was a strong competitor; as an administrator he always was well organized; as a colleague and adviser to students, he was unfailingly positive, good humored and helpful.

—Submitted by Wilbert McKeachie,

professor emeritus of psychology


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