In Memoriam: Seymour Sarason, Pioneer in Community, Education Psychology

Seymour B. Sarason, who is credited with founding the discipline of community psychology and was a longtime member of the Yale faculty, died on Jan. 29 in New Haven. He was 91.

Sarason, professor emeritus of psychology, joined the Yale faculty in 1945 and taught generations of students for five decades until his retirement in 1989. He published 45 books and numerous articles on psychology, education and mental retardation. Among these are “Psychological Problems in Mental Deficiency,” “The Culture of the School and the Problems of Change,” “The Psychological Sense of Community: Prospects for a Community Psychology,” “Caring and Compassion in Clinical Practice” and his autobiography, “The Making of an American Psychologist.”

Sarason also specialized in education psychology and the psychological sense of aging. Early in his career, he conducted a study of schoolchildren’s anxiety about classroom examinations and testing.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, on Jan. 12, 1919, Sarason earned his B.A. degree in 1939 from the University of Newark (now Rutgers) and both his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Clark University in 1940 and 1942, respectively. He was chief psychologist at the Southbury Training School from 1942 until 1945, when he joined the Yale faculty as an assistant clinical professor. He was promoted to the rank of professor in 1954 and became the first I.B.M. Professor of Urban Education in 1975. From 1963 to 1970, he was the director of the Yale Psycho-Educational Clinic.

Sarason trained or mentored countless psychologists during his career. In 1971, he helped two Yale students, Frances L. Brody and Susan Waisbren, found Marrakech Inc., the state of Connecticut’s first halfway house for women with mental retardation.

Sarason was married for 50 years to Esther (Kroop) Sarason until her death in 1993. He is survived by a daughter, Julie, and her husband Paul Feuerstein, of Lowell, Massachusetts; a grandson, Nathaniel; his brother Irwin and his wife, Barbara, of Seattle, Washington; and a brother-in-law, Dr. Ir­ving Kroop, and his wife, Eugenia, of Brooklyn, New York. His companion was Dr. Irma Janoff Miller of Stratford, Connecticut.

To sign a memorial book, visit