Jack Catlin


Jack S. Catlin

Jack Catlin was born in Eldorado, Kansas, but gew up in Florida. He received his bachelor's degree from the University of Chicago and his Ph.D. in experimental psychology from the University of Pennsylvania in 1971. He was a psycholinguist.

Recently his work dealt with the relation of formal models of language analysis to psychological processes of language comprehension. He argued that the semantic representation of a sentence must include procedures for evaluating its truth conditions. The neurological basis of language processing was a secondary concern of Professor Catlin.

He contributed papers to Psychological Review, Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, Brain and Language, and Neuropsychologia on these and other topics. He participated in a symposium in honor of the late Eric Lenneberg, presenting a paper on the psychological status of generative grammar and the innateness of universal principles of language.

As a professor, Jack took his teaching responsibility seriously. The courses that he taught ranged from experimental psychology and psycholingulistics on the one hand to the history of psychology on the other. His students were impressed with his dedication as a teacher, his ablility to synthesize disparate points of view in class discussion, and his clarity in presenting and explaining complex issues. To his graduate students Jack was more than a teacher, he was a mentor and a friend.

As a colleague, Jack was a constructive hell-raiser. He always had the best interests of the department at heart and continually reminded us that department and University decisions could not be separated from a system of values. In person, in letters to the Daily Sun and in departmental memos, Jack reminded, goaded, challenged, and provoked, and did so out of caring and a sense of loyalty to his collegues and students. He was appreciated most for his soft-spoken determination, his enthusiasm, his wit, and his caring for people.

He was thirty-two when he died.

Robert E. Kraut, Susan Kemper, Ronald D. Mack

Cornell University Faculty Memorial Statement