Photo courtesy of the Department of Psychology.
Robert S. Hutton
When I was a scrawny sophomore in high school, I swore that I would never take another science class for as long as I lived. Only one teacher could change my mind. I met this teacher at the University of Washington five years later. His name was Robert S. Hutton Sr. of the Department of Psychology.
Bob (as students affectionately called him) was a brilliant man. His interests were as varied as the body of knowledge he possessed. Academically, he was well versed in physics, chemistry, biology, anatomy, physiology, neurology, and kinetics. During brief stints in the classroom he could be heard discussing jazz, baseball, mountain climbing, boxing, football, and Michael Jordan. He was definitely not a lonely face behind the overhead sharing information in a monotone voice typical of some professors. Rather, if you were lucky enough to pass the first test and not drop out of his course, he let you into his life, into his heart, into his very soul.
One 400-level neuropsych class began with no less than 50 students. Bob's mental toughness and intestinal fortitude weeded that number down to 13 before the final exam. Bob invited the remnant 13 of us to his house in Issaquah for a pre-Christmas reward dinner. He had football muted on the television as a backdrop to the jazz music blaring throughout his woodsy cabin-like home. Framed Michael Jordan posters decorated at least one wall in every room. I took every single class I could that had his name attached to it in the course catalogue. I also volunteered as a human subject for one of Bob's experiments on the M-wave and the H-wave. Later I became an undergraduate
research assistant for him. It was so exciting working with him. His work was cutting-edge. The nature of his research required expertise in many fields. He was the first and the only professor to encourage me to pursue a graduate degree. More importantly, he was the first professor to make me feel like I was much more than my student identification number.
In March, 1991, Bob suddenly passed away. He went into the hospital for a bleeding ulcer and had deadly complications. No longer would I choose another course coupled with his name or help him complete his research work. Nevertheless, Bob's impact can still be acutely felt by my high school science students. I get that same fire of fulfillment in my eyes that Bob had in his every time a student grasped a particularly difficult concept. Every Christmas I remember the passion for learning Bob passed on to me and my desire to go back to school intensifies exponentially. Finally, beginning in the fall of 2000 I will pursue a Ph. D. in chemistry. Bob, I can at last thank you for all you've done for me by fulfilling your vision for my life.
Carmela Rivera Minaya, '91
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