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David Michael “Mike” Kuhlman, professor emeritus of psychology and brain
sciences at the University of Delaware, passed at his home in Newark on
Sept. 13, 2021, after a long, courageous battle with lymphoma. He was
A member of the UD faculty from 1970 until his retirement in 2019, Dr. Kuhlman studied social interdependence, with special emphasis on the role of individual differences in social orientation and its relationship to social interaction and conflict resolution. A respected scholar in this country and abroad, he forged and nurtured close relations between the psychology departments at UD and the University of Warsaw in Poland. He is remembered by his colleagues and many students as a gifted speaker who was “inspired by ideas, warmth and humor.”
Several of Dr. Kuhlman’s colleagues shared their reflections about him.
Move this whole section up, swapping places with the section above it.
Janusz Grzelak, professor emeritus of psychology at the University of
Warsaw, posted this message on his department’s homepage: “It is with
great sadness that we received the news of the death of Prof. D. Michael
Kuhlman, a great friend of the Faculty of Psychology, a specialist in
the field of social psychology and psychology of personality. As an
employee of the University of Delaware, he visited Warsaw many times,
where he collaborated with scientists and conducted classes for
students. He was one of the most important figures in the creation of
Psychological Studies in English (WISP) at our Faculty. He was a
co-organizer and lecturer of summer schools in Poland. Over the years,
he has supported us and helped in establishing contacts between
employees of our universities, which resulted in mutual visits and
cooperation. Thanks to his efforts, students of the Faculty of
Psychology were able to go on research visits to the University of
Delaware (USA). Today, most of these students are at least doctors. Mike
— thank you! We'll miss you.”
Robert Simons, professor emeritus of psychological and brain sciences
at UD, worked with Dr. Kuhlman for nearly 40 years. “He was a true
colleague and friend,” Simons said. “Mike’s research interest involved
social dilemmas --- situations in which self-interest is at odds with
collective interests and how individual differences in personality, such
as individualism, competitiveness and cooperation effect their
resolution. Mike, of course, was a cooperator, and this characterized
not only his work for our department but his family and friendships as
well. His legacy is large and extends from his major contributions to
the intricate workings of Psychological and Brain Sciences to his role
in the establishment of a formal relationship between the University of
Delaware and the University of Warsaw.”
Tania L. Roth, professor and chair of the department, said, “Every
time I interacted with Mike, it was such a bright spot in my day. I
remember the first day I was settling in my office as a new assistant
professor, and Mike stopped by to welcome me and introduce himself and
let me know he was here to support me. Mike was always so kind with his
time, always interested in hearing what I was working on and sharing
something to make me laugh. I greatly miss our hallway and mailroom
“Dr. Kuhlman had an important impact on me as a person, and as a
young professor,” said Ryan Beveridge, associate professor and director
of the Center for Training, Evaluation and Community Collaboration.
“I'll never forget the first time I met him. I walked past his office
while he was standing at the door. He noticed me hurriedly walking by
and with his dry sense of humor said, ‘Hello there, I'm kind of old
fashioned. I still like to say hello to folks I don't know.’ This began a
13-year professional and personal relationship that profoundly shaped
me, as he became a close friend and mentor. Mike built a special
collaboration for the department, and for me personally, with the
University of Warsaw in Poland. Through his work, faculty and graduate
students have had the unique opportunity to visit Warsaw to teach,
collaborate on research projects and share the mentorship of
international students at both institutions. He also was a productive
scholar. His work on social values and personality has shaped the field
of social psychology, and the work of his many graduate students, whom
he served as a warm and caring mentor to. We will all miss his wisdom,
kindness, and truly wonderful sense of humor in Wolf Hall.”
Lisa Jaremka, associate professor of psychological and brain
sciences, said, “My fondest memories of Mike are during our weekly
social area presentations. Mike always paid super close attention to
every word the speakers had to say, and he always had a thought or
comment about their talk to share with everyone. It was always fun to
hear his thoughts on the talks!”
Beth Morling, professor of psychological and brain sciences, said,
“Mike taught me that almost any social situation can be better
understood by comparing it to a decomposed game.Mike also established
the WarDel program, a collaborative agreement between the Universities
of Warsaw and Delaware. Mike facilitated my own visit there in 2019
with my colleague, Missy Beers from Ohio State. Mike sent me regular
emails to me during that week, cheering us on and offering restaurant
and bar recommendations (all of which we tried!!)”
Philip Gable, associate professor of psychological and brain
sciences, said, “Mike was one of the most generous and genuine
individuals you could hope to work with. He loved sharing what he had
with others. As one recent example, he offered to permanently give his
Tesla to a group of former colleagues he thought could use it. Although
none of us needed it, it was an overwhelming gesture of giving on his
part. I think one of the joys of his career was welcoming and supporting
new faculty. He would go out of his way to make sure they were
supported and welcomed. At the same time, Mike did not like the
spotlight either personally or professionally. It would probably
embarrass him terribly to hear what we're saying about him now.
Dr. Kuhlman grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, earning his bachelor’s
degree in psychology at the University of Missouri. He received his
doctorate in major experimental social psychology at the University of
California, Santa Barbara.
During his tenure at UD, he served as associate chairperson of the
department form 1985-90 and acting chairperson in the fall of 1987. He
also was vice president and president of the University Faculty Senate
in 1984-85 and 1985-86, respectively.
In addition to several visits to University of Warsaw, he was a
Fulbright Lecturer at the University of Hokkaido in Sapporo, Japan and
also had visiting appointments at the University of Groningen in The
Netherlands, the Science University of Tokyo Oshamanbe Campus in
Hokkaido and the European Association of Experimental Social Psychology
in Serock, Poland.
A member of the International Society of Cross Cultural Psychology,
Dr. Kuhlman was the author of numerous publications, invited talks and
He is survived by his sons, Andy and Jamie Kuhlman, his daughter
Jessica Kuhlman Shook, four grandchildren, his brother Gary and many
nieces, nephews and cousins.
A private celebration of Dr. Kuhlman’s life will be held at a later
date. Donations in his memory may be made to the Leukemia and Lymphoma
To read his complete obituary, visit the R.T. Foard Funeral Home website, where condolences may be left online.
Article by UDaily staff;
Photo by Kathy F. Atkinson
Published October 04, 2021