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Benjamin and Dorothy Fruchter Centennial Award for Excellence in Educational Psychology Research at the Doctoral Level

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Benjamin Fruchter was a professor emeritus in the Department of Educational Psychology at The University of Texas at Austin. He taught in the department for 45 years, from 1949 to 1994. He died in 2009. His expertise was statistics, particularly multivariate statistics and factor analysis. Dorothy A. Fruchter earned a doctorate in educational psychology from UT but was primarily a businesswoman in the field of tests and measures development, serving as the CEO of two corporations, the Educational Development Corporation and the Psychological Research Service. She also ran a private practice as a psychologist, one of the first in Austin. All three of Benjamin and Dorothy’s children received degrees from UT.

Benjamin Fruchter was born in 1914 in New York City. Benjamin’s father died when he was young, and he was a teenager when the Great Depression began. Despite these difficulties he received an excellent education: Townsend Harris High School, Brooklyn College, the University of California at Berkeley, and finally the University of Southern California on the GI Bill.

During World War II Benjamin served in a psychological research unit of the Army Air Force, stationed at Santa Ana Air Force Base near Los Angeles. There he worked under the man who would become his mentor, J. P. Guilford, commander of the unit. The unit was best known for its work on air crew training selection. Benjamin became an early expert on factor analysis. Dorothy worked at the Santa Ana unit, where she met Benjamin. After the war, Benjamin studied for his master’s and doctorate under Dr. Guilford at USC. He joined The University of Texas at Austin faculty soon thereafter.

Dorothy grew up a Californian, spending most of her girlhood in Taft, where her father taught high school. She graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in psychology; at the time psychology was still a relatively new and underdeveloped field. She deferred her career to raise three children, but after her youngest was in school she began to pursue her business career.

Dorothy’s business projects came from armed services contracts or other government agencies in the fields of test development and construction. This work led to Dorothy’s pursuit of a doctorate, and conveniently, one of her projects served as her dissertation research.

She was active as a psychologist in Austin in various capacities, including taking clients referred for testing and evaluation, serving on community psychology boards, and collaborating on the construction of a building that housed various psychological groups and services.

Benjamin and Dorothy tended to operate as a team, each with their own specialty, although there was some overlap. Dorothy gravitated toward tests and measures development and administration. Benjamin specialized in sophisticated data analyses. They worked with academic and quantitative rigor to put psychological research and services on a sound scientific and quantitative footing. It is to this end that they devoted their careers.

When Benjamin and Dorothy made their endowment gift they wanted to support psychological research, but they didn't have enough money to directly support a research program. So they directed their gift to a dissertation award hoping to spur graduate students to pursue excellence in their doctoral research.

The Benjamin and Dorothy Fruchter Centennial Award for Excellence in Educational Psychology Research at the Doctoral Level is memorialized with a plaque in the Educational Psychology Department offices. The Fruchters also endowed the Benjamin and Dorothy A. Fruchter Endowed Excellence Fund in Quantitative Methods, which supports the chair of the Educational Psychology Department by providing an annual supplement to procure machinery or services for the department.

The Benjamin and Dorothy Fruchter Centennial Award for Excellence in Educational Psychology Research at the Doctoral Level was established by the Board of Regents of The University of Texas System on June 17, 1983, for the benefit of the College of Education. Gift funds were provided by Benjamin Fruchter, Ph.D. of Austin, Texas and Dorothy A. Fruchter, Ph.D. of Austin, Texas, a 1970 graduate of The University of Texas at Austin College of Education.

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