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Art Kramer

Art Kramer

Beckman Institute director, 2010-16 | Professor/center director, Northeastern University | Class of 1984

The plan, as Art and Laurie Kramer drew it up, was to stick around for four years, five tops, just long enough for the couple to each earn a Ph.D. — her in clinical psychology, him in cognitive psychology — then head back east.

But in a story not unlike the ones you’ll hear across the UI campus, five years turned into 10, 10 into 20 and 20 into 30 before the Kramers — by this point 37-year residents of Champaign-Urbana — packed their bags and moved to Boston.

“When we got to Boston in 2016, I was asked by a new colleague whether we would stay at Northeastern University as long as we were at the University of Illinois,” Art says. “My reply was that it seemed unlikely since I would be 100 years old by the time I completed another 37 years.

“Champaign-Urbana was and always will be our home. We look forward to visiting once we can safely travel again.”

The Kramers’ Illini experience began in 1979, when the future Beckman Institute director was fresh out of SUNY-Stony Brook, where he received a bachelor’s degree in psychology.

He picks it up from here:

“I have many great memories as a graduate student in Champaign-Urbana — from my interdisciplinary education in Human Factors and Cognitive Neuroscience from my two mentors, Manny Donchin and Chris Wickens, to Friday afternoons playing pool and drinking beer and eating the famous fried fish sandwiches at the DeLuxe restaurant on Green Street, to spending early evenings playing handball, racquetball and squash at the IMPE building on campus.

“Having finished graduate school, I was very fortunate to be hired in one of the first interdisciplinary faculty positions at the University in the Department of Psychology, the Department of Mechanical Engineering and the Institute of Aviation at Willard Airport.

“Over the years, I was able to teach a multitude of bright and passionate undergraduate and graduate students and to conduct research with students and colleagues.

“1989-90 was also a fantastic time for us — with the birth of our daughter, Anne, and the opening of the Beckman Institute, a playground for those of us interested in forging interdisciplinary collaborations with colleagues and students from across campus.

“We were fortunate to be able to raise our daughter in Champaign-Urbana until she went off to college in Wisconsin. I very much enjoyed my 27 years in the scientific candy store that we call the Beckman Institute.”

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