In Appreciation: Andy Baum

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Andrew Baum

APS Fellow Andrew Baum died on November 22, 2010 at the age of 62.

Baum was a distinguished professor and researcher at The University of Texas Arlington’s Department of Psychology where he made pioneering contributions to the field of health psychology, particularly in behavioral medicine, oncology, and cancer control.

Before joining The University of Texas Arlington’s faculty, he served as the director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute and many of its various behavioral science programs. He also served as a faculty member of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS).

His list of awards and recognitions are numerous, including the APA’s Early Career Award for Outstanding Contributions to Health Psychology,  the APA’s Centennial Award for Early Career Contributions to the Science Directorate, the Outstanding Service Medal and the Distinguished Service Medal for Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, and he was a member of the Executive Council of the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research.

In addition to Baum’s considerable influence on psychological science, he made an impact on the lives of his many friends and colleagues, as seen through the following remembrances.

Angela Liegey Dougall

The University of Texas at Arlington

During the past 18 years, Andy was my mentor, my co-investigator, and especially my friend. He was such a vibrant presence that mere words cannot capture his essence. He had a contagious enthusiasm for research, studying topics that were hard to study but yet immensely important for society, such as crowding, natural and technological disasters, and the experiences that cancer patients face. He approached these topics with creative and innovative research designs that were at the same time simple and elegant. He started with a dream over 30 years ago to build a line of programmatic research in which each study was a piece of one, large picture. Few people have that ability and foresight.

Andy was also an astounding writer. He could communicate complex thoughts and ideas in simple, understandable language. He would often tell me to write so that my grandmother would be able to understand it; and now I repeatedly tell my students the same thing. He was also famous for how quickly he could produce a finished product. When he was in his element, it was not unusual for him to write a manuscript for publication — or an entire grant — overnight. All of his writing was done by hand with a beautiful script that flowed across the page.

As well-known and influential as Andy was in his professional life, few people outside of work knew what a big shot he was. He was a humble, down to earth man who was a loyal friend and family man. He loved to root for the underdog (unless they were playing the Steelers or the Redskins), he loved to coach his kids’ sports teams, he loved his wife and family, and he loved animals of all sizes (the more the better). There was always room in his heart for one more stray.

He has touched many people throughout his life: former students, post-docs, colleagues, and friends. We all agree that we have never known anyone with a bigger heart who would help anyone who had need. More than anything he enjoyed mentoring students, post-docs, and young faculty members, helping us to blossom into independent investigators who make meaningful contributions to science. He did not turn his back, or close his door, on anyone who needed a place to be or to call home. Each of us who has been touch by Andy carries a piece of him in our hearts. I am sure his legacy will continue on in all that we do.

I have had a long, rewarding journey with Andy. His travels have ended but mine will continue carrying forward all that I have learned from him and passing it on to the students I train.

Robert J. Gatchel

The University of Texas at Arlington

Andy Baum passed away suddenly on Monday, November 22, 2010 at the early age of 62, just before the Thanksgiving holiday. It gave me a new perspective of this holiday because, gathered with my three sons who knew Andy well, we gave thanks not only for the many blessings we had during this past year but also thanks for allowing us to have had Andy as our dear friend for the past 30 years. We were happy telling many “Andy stories,” including many about his beloved cats. My sons all remembered their initial contacts with Andy, who insisted that they call him Andy rather than Dr./Mr. Baum. It was the first time in their young lives that they were able to address an adult by his first name. This habit continued throughout his life, with him asking everyone, including students, to call him Andy. He had a great impact on everyone he worked with, especially his students.

Andy and I first met in 1978 when the only common faculty member in the lives of both of us — Jerome Singer — was in the early stages of developing the Department of Medical Psychology at The Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda.

At that time, Jerry invited Andy, David Krantz, and me to join the department. For all three of us, this became the real starting point of our “accelerated academic careers.” It was interesting that, because the new university was not completely finished, we were initially in temporary facilities that required Andy, David, and me to share a large office together along with our often puzzled secretary, Wanda. Poor Wanda had to put up with the antics of three new “young Turks” trying to talk over one another, competing with one another, collaborating with one another, etc. During this time, Andy and I wrote the first textbook in Health Psychology (David became a third author on the second edition). Andy and I had fond memories of writing this book together because it was the first example of how “driven” we were in terms of getting things accomplished that would lay the foundation for our prolific future academic careers. We actually had a  never-verbalized competition in terms of writing our chapters. I remember that, after we signed the contract for the textbook, Andy produced his first chapter in two weeks. I was amazed at this unexpected production speed and subsequently had my first chapter written in two-to-three weeks. Meanwhile, Andy was writing his second chapter and had it completed shortly after I completed my first chapter. And so it went. With this rhythm, we actually completed the first draft of the entire book in about three months, with it being published within a year after signing the contract. An Introduction to Health Psychology was the very first nonedited book in this new field and was published in 1983. This started the trend in our academic production lives in terms of getting used to working 24/7 in the field in which we were entirely enmeshed and grew to love because of the new frontiers into which we were expanding as a profession.

In 1981, the call of Texas and family resulted in my returning to The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. Andy started calling me Bubba because of my new Texan status, and I, in turn, called him Andre just because I knew it would make him chuckle. Subsequently, in 1993, Andy moved to Pittsburgh, becoming the Director of the Behavioral Medicine and Oncology Program at The University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI), where he continued his illustrious career. He ended up as a Deputy Director of UPCI. There were three deputies — basic research, clinical, and him (“Lord High Poobah of Everything Else,” we said). He had 80 people working under him.

Well, the universe was not yet finished with the lives of Andy and me. In 2004, I was offered the position as Chairman of Psychology, College of Science, at The University of Texas at Arlington, with the task of increasing the status of this department as a major research university department. I was given the opportunity to hire multiple new junior faculty, as well as more senior investigators. The first of such senior investigators I thought of was Andy, with whom I had continued to collaborate over our many years apart. I thought it would be a long shot in terms of getting Andy “out of the Northeast.” However, with some persuasion and multiple visits to the DFW area, Andy decided to give it a try. One of the selling points I gave Andy was the fact that “since he already wore cowboy boots, he would be able to purchase them at a lower price down in Texas cowboy boot country.” When Andy, his wife Carrie, his son Jesse, and his daughter Callie arrived, they all became instant Texans. They were able to purchase a three-acre lot outside the city, where they subsequently started raising horses along with their cats and dogs. Also, they soon became Texas “oil and gas folks,” with the large Barnett Shale Natural Gas reserve running under their property, for which they began receiving natural gas lease payments. True Texans they were! We were also able to get Carrie a position in the College of Science, which she loved, and both Jesse and Callie excelled in one of the better school districts in the area. Jesse subsequently graduated from high school and was awarded an Outstanding Freshman scholarship in the College of Engineering at UT Arlington. If you could see Jesse now, you would swear he was born and raised in Texas, with his cowboy boots and cowboy hats. Callie recently had her first child with her Texas high-school sweetheart.

Earlier this year, our great personal friend and colleague who was so instrumental in developing the field of Health Psychology, Jerome Singer, died. Andy helped to write the obituary for Jerry. I now have the great honor to write Andy’s. We will all miss you, Andre, as a friend, colleague, and pioneering scholar in the field of Health Psychology. It is now fitting to end with Andy’s favorite citation, which expressed his approach to life:

To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty; To find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived; This is to have succeeded.

Neil E. Grunberg

Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences

Clickety, clickety, clickety, click. The sound of cowboy boots rapidly coming down the hallway meant that, within seconds, my office door would burst open. “Hey, Butch, what’s up? Lookin’ casual today. Nice haircut. What are ya workin’ on? See you at lunch.” It was another weekday and the human tornado, Andy Baum, had arrived with his undiminished energy and unique way of joking, commenting, and gathering information.

I first met Andrew S. Baum in January 1979, while interviewing for a job in Medical Psychology at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU). Although I was accustomed to professors with distinctive personalities and eccentricities, I was not fully prepared for Professor Baum. His hair was wild, his sideburns and handle-bar moustache were reminiscent of the “Magnificent Seven,” and he was dressed head to toe in cowboy clothes. He carried his papers and books in a saddle bag and used the casual western greeting: “Howdy, I’m Andy.”

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Andrew Baum

Based on his appearance, I was surprised that Andy was born and raised in Silver Spring, Maryland, went to school at Pitt and SUNY-Stony Brook, and had never lived west of the Mississippi. I was surprised that Andy and his wife, Carrie, had seven cats and that their living room had an original Pac-Man video game and vintage 1950s juke box. I was surprised when Andy was excited about the “Star Wars” movies and that his mood on Autumn Mondays was dependent on the performance of the Washington Redskins. Over the years, I came to understand that Andy embraced and kept alive his Baby Boomer childhood (including playing cowboy, early video games, 45s on the juke box, his beloved football team) while simultaneously being a responsible adult, spouse, parent, mentor, and friend.

For 15 years, I interacted with Andy every day of the week at USU, and my wife and I frequently saw Andy and Carrie on weekends. Andy’s prolific contributions to health psychology, medical psychology, and behavioral medicine, through his original research, textbooks, edited volumes, journal editing, and involvement in professional and scientific societies and associations, are well-known. His entertaining and informative teaching style educated countless numbers of undergraduates, graduate students, medical students, and colleagues. But it was his sincere dedication and concern about other people, including his family, friends, and students, that made him so special. Frankly, I have never known anyone who cared so much about so many people so deeply.

One Monday morning almost 25 years ago, when Andy and I were co-authoring a chapter on stress and substance abuse, he appeared with dozens of pages complete with references. I knew that he also was busy mowing his three-acre lawn over the weekend and that he had spent time nursing a sick cat. I was so impressed by the quality and quantity of the writing that I said, “Andy, you are the Sundance Kid of Health Psychology” (referring to the character portrayed by Robert Redford whose lightning-fast draw and accuracy as a gunman were legendary). Andy was delighted with the analogy and immediately said, “and you’re Butch Cassidy, always thinking and worrying.” From that day on, he signed his notes to me “SK” and I signed my notes to him “B.”

Andy was my professional big brother in every sense of that relationship. I admired him, looked up to him, competed with him, fought with him, and loved him. Although I will keep thinking and worrying, I will try to keep some of my boyishness alive to honor my brother, the Sundance Kid of Health Psychology.

Frank Jenkins

University of Pittsburgh

In 1987, I joined Uniformed Services University as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology. Down the hall from my laboratory was the Department of Medical Psychology. I didn’t know anything about this Department except that there was a faculty member with very bushy hair and a large bushy mustache who wore cowboy boots and carried an old pair of saddle bags stuffed with papers. His presence on an elevator was somewhat intimidating and it convinced me that the field of Medical Psychology was really weird.

In 1992, I noticed an announcement regarding an upcoming seminar on the use of latent herpesviruses as independent markers of stress. My research interests at the time were focused on herpes simplex 1 and I had recently decided to explore the area of herpetic latency, so the topic intrigued me. The seminar speaker was Andrew Baum, the cowboy-boot-wearing, saddle-bag-carrying faculty member from Medical Psychology. I enjoyed his seminar very much and that was start of a long friendship.

Andy was thrilled that a herpes virologist was interested in his work, and we soon began to discuss science. I became a frequent visitor to his office. Over the next 18 years, Andy taught me about medical psychology. He taught me like a mentor, ever patient and always willing to overlook my lack of psychology background. He also began to teach me about statistics, something I had never had a strong need for in my research. Here his patience was often severely tested, but still he remained patient. If it wasn’t for Andy Baum, I would have never divided my research efforts between virology and behavioral medicine.

Andy quickly became more than just a colleague — he became my best friend. I could go to him with problems, and he would always serve as a great listener. The amazing thing was that in many ways Andy and I were nothing alike. He was a staunch Democrat, I was (in his opinion), not only a Republican but slightly to the right of Genghis Khan. He loved the Washington Redskins, I grew up a diehard Dallas Cowboy fan. This alone would make most people stay away from each other! In true Andy fashion, we agreed on a truce; we wouldn’t talk about the ’Skins or da ’Boys (much). It was this willingness to disagree yet maintain a strong friendship that I loved the most about Andy. He always tried to see the best in everyone, and this is the one trait I hope to keep as a way of honoring his memory. I miss my friend.

Lawrence Chaitkin

Retired. Formerly, NIMH, NIH

I was in shock when I heard about Andy Baum. How could this be?

I loved Andy. He was just a wonderful person. In 1989, I became the Scientific Review Administrator for a new Study Section formed by the National Institute of Mental Health, NIH, called the Health and Behavior Review Committee (HBRC). Andy was the first Chair of this Committee, which he Chaired for a total of four years.

HBRC was only one of two Behavioral Medicine Review Committees in the U.S. Public Health service at that time. These two committees were the eyes in the needle through which all grant applicants had to pass before being considered for funding. So the establishment of this second committee was an event of some importance to the field, and Andy had a key role in it.

When Andy became Chair, he lived six minutes from my house. So we were in frequent, easy contact, and we consulted closely about the workings of the Committee, including the appointment of members. This was important because, although I had a lot of experience as a Review Administrator before running HBPR, I actually knew very little about the behavioral medicine field when the Committee was formed, what the major issues were, who some of the key players were, etc. Andy filled me in and, in fact, just as a check, before the committee met for the first time he and I each assigned committee members to do reviews separately, and then compared notes. Our assignments were very similar overall, but when they weren’t, did we have fun. We teased each other mercilessly about it. I learned an awful lot in the process. Andy was such a pleasure to work with, so helpful. Correction — it never felt like work with Andy. We both laughed all the way.

And I remember how he Chaired the Committee meetings. The best Chair you could imagine — he made the work such a pleasure for all of us. We did good work — really, really good work — and we laughed all the way. His leadership style contributed to the cohesiveness of the Committee and to the quality of the decision making. Whatever credit this Committee achieve for the field is owed in large part to Andy.

I still remember the time that Andy stuffed the pockets of my sport coat with candy balls while I was off on a bathroom break during a Committee meeting. Bob Gatchel and some of the other Committee members were in on it too. Boy, was I surprised when I sat down and put my hands in my pockets. Anything to get a laugh. I totally broke up and everyone else had a good laugh. Bless him.

What a rare combination of talents Andy had for work and for people. The guy was brilliant, a superb scientist, and he had the human touch too. Like no other.

And now he’s gone at 62. I can’t believe it. I’ll miss him forever.

David S. Krantz

Uniformed Services University

Like most of us who knew Andy well, it is hard for me to actually believe that I am writing this remembrance of him, since his passing  was such a personal and shocking loss.

I have known Andy since 1978, when he, Bob Gatchel, and I were recruited by Jerry Singer to help start the newly established Department of Medical Psychology at Uniformed Services University (USUHS). I remained a colleague of his and had the office next door to him at USUHS for 15 years until 1993. Knowing Andy over such a long period, there is no shortage of stories I can tell, and since finding out about his passing, I have run some of these stories over in my mind many times and look back on them fondly. Andy loved humor, and if he were still here, I am sure that he would enjoy reading these recollections from the past. My first encounter with him was a phone conversation we had before we each moved to Bethesda. I was then at my first job at USC in Los Angeles, and we exchanged our thoughts about what things would be like in our new department. I remember Andy saying that it would be good to meet me when I came back to the United States. I told him that as far as I knew, LA was in the U.S., and Andy said he knew, but California seemed so far away to him. It was only later on that I understood what he meant, given Andy’s well-known reluctance to travel long distances.

I admit that when I began work at USUHS as a young assistant professor I was somewhat intimidated and amazed by how much Andy had already accomplished professionally in his early career years. He had published a classic monograph on crowding with Stuart Valins, edited several other important books, and was one of the brightest stars in the field of environmental psychology. He would later go on to do other important and groundbreaking work in areas of stress, coping, and disaster, as well as psychoneuroimmunology and cancer. In the days before PCword processing, Andy came in each day with a thick stack of handwritten manuscripts or chapters he had written the night or weekend before and plop it down in the secretary’s inbox for typing. How could I possibly keep up with that? But despite his impressive body of work, there was nobody less personally intimidating and more welcoming and informal than Andy, and we quickly became close friends. I mean, how can you be intimidated by a guy who had a large inflatable green jet plane hanging from the ceiling of his office?

Andy followed a routine of working early in the morning and getting his writing done before he came in. Therefore, he needed to do less of his work in the office during the day. Bob Gatchel, Andy, and I initially occupied a partitioned office together, so there were plenty of opportunities for socializing and getting to know one another and for collaboration and exchange of ideas. There was also plenty of time for humor and joking around, which we both enjoyed. Andy and I soon became close friends, and we remained friends since. The enjoyment of humor always remained part of our relationship, but it was clear that we each felt a strong and deep affection toward one another.

When our permanent offices were completed, I would occupy an office next to Andy for the next 15 years. I will always be grateful to him, not only for his friendship but also for the influence he had on the direction my work took for the rest of my career. None of us could know at the time that our Department at USUHS (which consisted of Bob Gatchel, Jerry Singer, Andy, and later Neil Grunberg and Sheryl Gallant) and our work were contributing to the early years of the field that formally became health psychology.

In the early years, Andy would drive to work every day in his white Datsun (now Nissan) 240Z, and would show up every day wearing cowboy boots, a cowboy shirt, and a long canvas cowboy coat like they wore in the old Clint Eastwood movies. He always came to work with his trademark over the shoulder saddle bag he used for a briefcase. I initially assumed he was from the Western U.S. until I found that he grew up in Silver Spring, Maryland, and to that point hadn’t lived any further west than Pittsburgh. I never quite found out how or when Andy started dressing this way, but I will always remember the saddle bag briefcase as one of several Andy Baum originals.

Over the next few years, Neil Grunberg joined our Department and Bob Gatchel left to return to Texas. As a department chairman, Jerry Singer disliked holding meetings, but he loved to go out to lunch at the Parkway Deli (a kosher-style deli) in Silver Spring. Therefore, the way to keep up with what was going on in the department and the university was to go out to lunch with him. It started with Andy and Jerry going out together, but soon began the ritual of informal faculty meetings over New York style Jewish deli, including corned beef and pastrami sandwiches, half sour pickles, chopped liver, and Cel-Ray soda. I was an early dropout from the lunch group, because as much as I liked the kosher deli (and still do), I had a hard time going back to work every time with a stomach full of corned beef or chopped liver.

During his time at USUHS, Andy founded one of the first graduate programs in health psychology, trained many students, became an influential figure in and President of the Health Psychology Division of APA, conducted ground-breaking research, made many friends, and influenced the careers and lives of many people. When he left to move to Pittsburgh in 1993, we gave him a going away present consisting of a signed version of the famous photo of the four mounted horsemen of Notre Dame Football in the 1920s, with the faces of Baum, Singer, Grunberg, and Krantz photoshopped in and labeled, “the four horsemen of USUHS Medical Psychology.” I know Andy always cherished this picture as a remembrance of his time at USUHS and had it hanging on the wall of his office ever since. I put a similar version of this picture on my office wall when Andy left, and with Andy now gone, the photo will always have a more emotional meaning for me. It is sad that in a short space of a year, we have lost both Andy and Jerry Singer.

The incredible outpouring of sadness and remembrances from those who knew Andy is a testament to the remarkable effect that he had on so many people. Andy made a real difference and influenced many people in a life that ended way too early. He made a difference in terms of his contributions to the psychology field, to the lives of the many students he trained (who themselves are training the next generation of psychologists), in his important role as a great father and husband, and in the unforgettable effect he had on many of us who knew him as a colleague and friend. Aside from his love for his family, there are very few things Andy loved more than training and educating students, and he served as the founding Director of Graduate Studies in our Department for many years. When I think of how much he loved mentoring graduate students, I am reminded of one of my favorite quotes, from the author Henry Adams about the difference made by exceptional educators such as Andy: “A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell, where his influence stops.” I will miss Andy very much. œ

The family has asked that, for those who are interested, contributions should be made to the Dr. Andy Baum Memorial Fund at The University of Texas at Arlington, P.O. Box 19047, Arlington, TX 76019. These funds will be to further Andy’s legacy in the new Center for the Study of Health and Chronic Diseases.

Observer Vol.24, No.3 March, 2011

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Comments

Andy and I had parallel careers. We met in the mid 70’s when we were both environmental psychologists, Andy studying crowding and me noise. More importantly, we were both cat people. I think when we met, Andy and Carrie had 7 cats and Mary and I 5. We followed the same intellectual wave, becoming health psychologists with strong interests in endocrine and immune pathways. We got together at conferences and talked on the phone. In 1980 I spent several months at Uniformed Services interacting with Andy, David, Jerry and Neil and getting to know Carrie and the cats as well. I was part of the committee that hired Andy to come back to Pittsburgh (where he had been an undergraduate) to run the Behavioral Medicine Program at the Pittsburgh Cancer Institute. During his time in Pittsburgh we had the opportunity to both work and play together. It is hard for me to really accept that Andy is gone. He was a creative scientist who made many important contributions to psychology, and also a good friend and genuinely nice person. We miss him.

What seems eons ago, when my husband, George was Chairman of the Psychology Department at Trinity, I took a course with Andy. It was loads of fun – rather Jungian tied in with my interest in dream analysis and astrology. We would like to extend our sympathies to his widow if that is possible. Sixty two is just too young to depart from this world.

Many of us who are former students of Andy’s are having trouble accepting that he’s no longer here for us. He was an exceedingly generous mentor, and losing him makes me feel that I’ve lost my safety net. I’m among the USUHS cohort, and when I started there as a graduate student (25 years ago) it was one of the few Medical/Health Psychology Ph.D. programs in the country. I had been working as a research assistant at Hopkins when I fell in love with the field of Health Psych, and when I asked one of the post docs about the USUHS program, she said “excellent reputation – crazy people.” Unconventional might be a better characterization, but I remain convinced that going to USUHS and working with Andy was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. The USUHS faculty members at the time (Andy, Neil, David, Jerry, Sheryl, Trish & Jim) were THE movers and shakers in Health Psych, and they functioned very much as a family (dysfunctional at times, but always with a core of respect and affection). Somehow the high-maintenance graduate students (I don’t count myself among those, but others might) always ended up with Andy, and at times he suffered a great deal as a result. But as Neil says above, he simply cared so deeply for each of us that he was willing to accept the bad with the good, and he brought out the best in us all. He had a brilliant mind, a crazy-intense work ethic, and warm/wacky style, but those of us from that USUHS era know that Andy would do anything for us. We’ll miss him for a long time.

My wife, Grace Haronian, and I began our undergraduate careers in a freshman seminar with Andy in 1976 at Trinity in Hartford.

I remember his shock when I encouraged him to take the job at USUHS.

I remember he wouldn’t play pinball with us because it made him want a cigarette.

I remember he couldn’t take red cough syrup because of an incident in his youth.

I remember what he wrote on my first college level paper.

I remember being an outlier in ever study he did at Trinity, and a footnote in one of his books.

Mostly I remember hours of close friendship with a man of honesty and integrity who left this world much too soon.

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