Students, faculty remember professor
Published: Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, April 17, 2012 02:04
Every win over the New York Giants is a good memory for a Philadelphia Eagles fan, but for professor Robert Simons, his memories of these rivalry games go much deeper. Simons remembers watching these games and being impressed with the good humor exhibited by Lawrence Cohen, his friend and university faculty member of 33 years. Cohen died on April 1 at the age of 61.
“He was a good competitor, but had a good sense of humor,” Simons said. “He survived a lot of interesting football weekends.”
During Cohen’s years at the university, he held several different positions within the psychology department. He directed the Psychological Services Center, the Clinical Science Program and served as the department’s associate chair.
Cohen grew up in Levittown, N.Y., and completed his undergraduate education at Cornell University. Cohen received his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Florida State University in 1977.
Cohen began his tenure at the university two years later, as did Simons.
Simons called Cohen the “historian” of the psychology department and said he was known as a great storyteller. He also remembered Cohen’s fondness for helping younger faculty members become comfortable in a university environment.
“He kind of took them under his wing,” Simons said. “He was a good mentor that way.”
Psychology professor Ryan Beveridge stated in an email message that he was one of those professors that Cohen assisted.
“Dr. Cohen and I became close friends as he served as a mentor to me during my first few years as a professor,” Beveridge said. “His door was always open to me for any questions that I had.”
He said Cohen exceeded the expectations and requirements of his positions, taking a genuine interest in helping those around him.
“Mentoring undergraduate and graduate students was a passion of Dr. Cohen’s,” Beveridge said.
Senior psychology major Kaitlin Flannery stated in an email message that Cohen was helpful for post-graduate advising.
“He was eager to pass on his knowledge to students about graduate school in psychology,” Flannery said. “And [he] made it his personal mission to help students gain admission into graduate schools if that is what they hoped to do.”
Senior Adrienne Pinto stated in an email message that Cohen was a captivating speaker during advising sessions.
“Dr. Cohen got up and addressed the group very casually, engaging everyone immediately,” Pinto said. “He discussed his difficulty in deciding his future and said not to worry.”
Pinto said Cohen stressed to students that the future was nothing to be nervous about.
“He relieved a lot of those fears for us knowing that life will turn out as it will,” she said.
According to Simons, Cohen was talented in both serious advisement speeches and at making his audience laugh.
“He did commencements—he was a reliable go-to-guy if you wanted a roasting,” Simons said. “He could have been a great master of ceremonies.”
Beveridge said Cohen was an engaging speaker, even in informal sessions.
“He always had a group of students or faculty surrounding him as he would tell a hilarious story that had everyone laughing,” Beveridge said.
Flannery said it was Cohen who sparked her interest in psychology.
“It was his class that inspired me to become a psychology major, and I am now planning on pursuing a Ph.D. in psychology next year,” Flannery said. “I am incredibly thankful to have had him as a teacher.”
Jennifer Schwartz, director of the Psychological Services Center, stated in an email message that Cohen’s influence extended outside campus. At a recent meeting of Delaware psychologists, who were not from the university, she said Cohen’s significance was apparent.
“At least half of the people in the room told stories of Larry playing an important role in their professional development,” Schwartz said. “His impact was positive and far-reaching.”
She said she doesn’t think Cohen realized how important he was to so many people during his lifetime.
“I have been struck since the days following his death at just how many lives he not only touched, but played an instrumental role in,” Schwartz said.