Robert J. Sternberg is Professor of Human Development in the College of Human Ecology at Cornell University and Honorary Professor of Psychology at Heidelberg University, Germany.  Sternberg was briefly President and Professor of Psychology and Education at the University of Wyoming.  Before that, he was Provost, Senior Vice President, Regents Professor of Psychology and Education, and George Kaiser Family Foundation Chair of Ethical Leadership at Oklahoma State University.

Prior to going to Oklahoma State, Sternberg was Dean of Arts and Sciences and Professor of Psychology and Education at Tufts University, and before that, IBM Professor of Psychology and Education, Professor of Management, and Director of the Center for the Psychology of Abilities, Competencies, and Expertise at Yale.

Sternberg is a Past President of the American Psychological Association, the Federation of Associations in Behavioral and Brain Sciences, the Eastern Psychological Association, and the International Association for Cognitive Education and Psychology. He also is past-Treasurer of the Association of American Colleges and Universities. Sternberg also has been president of four divisions of the American Psychological Association.

Sternberg’s BA is from Yale University summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, his PhD is from Stanford University, and he holds 13 honorary doctorates from 11 countries. Sternberg has won more than two dozen awards for his work.  He is the author of over 1600 publications and, as a principal investigator, has received over $20 million in grant funding. 

He was cited in an APA Monitor on Psychology report as one of the top 100 psychologists of the 20th century (#60) and in a report in Archives of Scientific Psychology by Diener and colleagues as one of the top 200 psychologists of the modern era (#61).  According to Google Scholar, he has been cited 83,059 times, has an H value of 139, and an i10 value of 689; his most frequently cited publication, according to Google Scholar, has been cited 3622 times. He has been cited by ISI for being one of the most highly cited (top ½ of 1%) among psychologists and psychiatrists.

Sternberg is a member of the National Academy of Education and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, the Association for Psychological Science, the American Educational Research Association, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

He has received roughly two dozen national and international awards, including the Cattell Award from APS, and has held about $20 million in research grants and contracts. 

Sternberg taught his nature of leadership course for the past years as an administrator and it has consistently received ratings of 4.8-4.9 on a 5-point scale.  He also recently has taught a graduate course on intelligence (which was rated 4.9).

He is married to Karin Sternberg, PhD, and has two grown-up children, Seth and Sara, as well as triplets Samuel, Brittany, and Melody.


Interview with



Administrative Experience



Provostship/Senior Vice Presidency at Oklahoma State University

  • Oversaw quality initiative to enhance the academic quality of the university
  • Streamlined the admissions application in order to increase number of applications from qualified students
  • Formed Provost’s Council consisting of deans and VPs to enhance communication among top administrators
  • Started Provost’s External Advisory Council consisting of distinguished alumni, donors, friends of OSU to cultivate better relations with major leaders in the state and elsewhere
  • Formed Committee for Conservation of Financial Resources—report was approved and acted on—in order to implement means for increasing return on investment for major expenditures
  • Made suggestion (which was accepted) for a button on first web page of the university website for making donations
  • Initiated competition for creative interdisciplinary research/teaching/service grants helping to fulfill the land-grant mission of the university--$500,000/annum
  • Created program of intramural grants for projects that specifically could benefit the State
  • Helped acquire multi-million dollar donation from Ross McKnight--$10 million estate gift plus $50 thousand per year as well as other donations
  • Proposed Faculty Council committee on work-family balance, which helped faculty and staff achieve policies better enabling them to balance their work and family lives
  • Formed visioning task force, which proposed interdisciplinary spires of excellence for OSU that will help the university achieve its mission—these spires, accepted by Faculty Council, represent the intersection among our mission, strengths, and passions
  • Formed task force on creation and implementation of OSU strategic plan, whose strategic plan, accepted by Faculty Council, gave direction to where the university needed to go to achieve its academic mission
  • Formed task force on the teaching of entry-level college mathematics and implemented major changes in teaching/assessment in these courses; result is a Math Learning Success Center which improved retention by decreasing the number of Ds, Fs, and Ws in entry-level math courses
  • Formed task force on improving retention and graduation, whose recommendations were implemented, already resulting in 5% increase in retention in two years
  • Instituted ombudsperson to help resolve conflicts among university personnel on an informal basis
  • Created and personally funded awards for excellence in the fulfillment of land-grant mission of OSU, one for faculty and one for staff
  • Created awards for excellence in mentoring junior colleagues, one for faculty and one for staff
  • Formed department heads’ college to help educate new department heads in the tacit knowledge required for success in the job
  • Instituted major admissions initiative, Panorama, to admit students for creative, analytical, practical, and wisdom-based/ethical skills needed for positive ethical leadership
  • Instituted 360 degree evaluations of deans and provost after 5 years of service
  • Instituted faculty service awards recognizing longevity at OSU
  • Instituted program of sending congratulatory letters to faculty for receipt of new grants and contracts
  • Helped attain roughly $1.5 million per annum over five years donation for the creation of a new student learning center, the Learning and Student Success Opportunity (LASSO) Center, which has enrolled roughly one-fourth of the entering class at OSU
  • Reinvigorated honorary doctorate program
  • Formed electronic suggestion box
  • Created task force on general-education requirements, which revised gen ed requirements
  • Formed task force on reappointment-tenure-promotion process in order to create more uniformity and more stringent adherence to procedures across the colleges of the university
  • Created task force on evaluating student learning, which made recommendations that are now in the process of being implemented regarding student creation of electronic portfolios
  • Formed task force to enhance evaluation of teaching at OSU, which made recommendations including more intensive interventions, peer ratings, and enhanced public student ratings of teaching
  • Reorganized Institute for Teaching and Learning Excellence more to emphasize instructing teachers in teaching to the way each individual student learns
  • Oversaw 7 dean, associate provost, and assistant provost searches
  • Helped to create President’s Cup for creative interdisciplinary research supporting the land-grant mission of OSU
  • Formed task force to plan how university could move to ACT-optional admissions
  • Formed task force on formulating standardized university workload and overload policies in order better to allocate university resources; plan now being implemented
  • Created financial incentive system for colleges to achieve high first-year retention
  • Initiated transparency-in-governance initiative whereby all task force reports at any stage are available on the Web for faculty/staff/student comment at any time
  • In 2012, despite an essentially flat budget from the State, created the largest number of new faculty positions (40) in recent memory
  • Planned for ethical-leadership track open to all undergraduate and graduate students


Deanship of Arts and Sciences at Tufts University

  • Greatly increased scholarship aid for undergraduates.
  • Created several new faculty chairs in diverse departments.
  • Faculty size increased by roughly 7 percent.
  • Established full-year sabbatical leaves for junior faculty in order to facilitate tenure consideration.
  • Provided $1,000 annually for all tenure-stream faculty members to support their research.
  • Instituted redirections program of intramural grant funding to support research by faculty who wished to move their research in new directions or to activate paused research programs
  • Hired Arts and Science’s first Director of Sponsored Research to provide a new level of support for faculty applying for grants
  • Created the Center for the Humanities at Tufts (CHAT).
  • Created and implemented a phased incentivized retirement plan to motivate faculty considering retirement actually to retire.
  • Collectively, we raised over $425 million for the Arts and Sciences for the Tufts Beyond Boundaries capital campaign, more than 100% of our goal.
  • Established a committee to assess implementation of the Arts and Sciences Strategic Plan.
  • Each year admitted an academically stronger class than the previous year (as measured by high-school GPAs and SATs).
  • Implemented a uniform policy on academic integrity.
  • Implemented targeted measures to improve retention, such as a bridge program and careful monitoring of admitted students identified as at risk.
  • Substantially increased financial aid for graduate students.
  • Substantially increased recovery of overhead on grants.
  • Initiated coverage of the entire health fee and half of health-insurance costs for PhD candidates during their first five years of study.
  • With external funding from the Davis Educational Foundation, initiated the Center for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching (CELT).
  • With external funding from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundation, instituted a new three-tiered leadership minor.
  • With external support from private donations, instituted the Kaleidoscope program for admissions, which enhanced both the quality and diversity of our student body and sent a message to the public that Tufts looks for students who will make a positive, meaningful, and enduring difference to the world.
  • Increased the diversity of the student body and of the faculty, the latter, particularly at the senior levels.
  • Created a new Professor of the Practice program for hiring faculty.
  • Completed planning for the Doble Integrated Lab Complex and the renovation of the athletics center and provided a new home for political science in a renovated facility.
  • Received a major construction grant (just under $10 million) for the biology department
  • Instituted a formal program of assessment of student learning for seniors.
  • Redesigned the Arts and Sciences web site.
  • Hired our first Director of Communications, to focus broadly on publications, public relations, and the website presence of Arts and Sciences constituencies.
  • Instituted semi-annual town meetings for faculty, students, and staff to voice concerns and hopes.
  • Ensured that department tenure votes would be by secret ballot rather than by showing hands, so that faculty could vote as they chose without social pressure.
  • Initiated the A&S News Beat electronic newsletter to keep constituents informed of developments in the school.
  • Initiated the Dean’s Forum, a lecture series by outstanding researchers in Arts and Sciences, as a way for the Tufts community and surrounding communities to be informed of the latest research in the Arts and Sciences.
  • Instituted the Lerman-Neubauer lecture series by outstanding teachers in Arts and Sciences, as a way for the Tufts community and surrounding communities to see outstanding teaching at work.
  • Substantially increased standards for hiring, promotions, and tenures of faculty members.
  • Instituted systematic external reviews of all departments and programs on a 10-year cycle.
  • Created a formal window-of-opportunity hiring program to seek out talented faculty members, especially women and people of color, whenever and wherever they became available, regardless of whether there is an available slot.
  • Arts and Sciences created several new majors, such as in Cognitive and Brain Sciences.
  • Instituted uniform work-load policy for full-time lecturers.


Elective Administrative Offices:

President, Federation of Associations in Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 2012-2013

Treasurer, Association of American Colleges and Universities, 2011-2013

President, International Association for Cognitive Education and Psychology, 2009-2011

President, Eastern Psychological Association, 2007–2008

President, American Psychological Association, 2003

President, Division 24 (Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology), American Psychological Association, August 2000–July 2001

President, Division 10 (Psychology and the Arts), American Psychological Association, August 1999–July 2000

President, Division 15 (Educational Psychology), American Psychological Association, August 1994–August 1995

President, Division 1 (General Psychology), American Psychological Association, 1994


Boards of Directors/Trustees:

Board of Directors (Vice-Chair), OSU Center for Innovation and Economic Development, Inc., 2010-2013

Board of Directors, Federation of Associations in Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 2010-2015

Board of Directors, Creative Oklahoma, 2011-2013

Board of Directors, International Association of Cognitive Education and Psychology, 2007-2013

Board of Directors, Association of American Colleges and Universities, 2007–2013;

Board of Trustees (Honorary), American Psychological Foundation, 2009-2012

Board of Trustees, American Psychological Foundation, 2005–2007

Board of Directors, Eastern Psychological Association, 2005–2008

Board of Trustees (American Psychological Association Liaison), American Psychological Association Insurance Trust, 2004

Board of Directors, American Psychological Association, 2002–2004