Fabulous Fossils Still Vertical

Season 2: Phil Farber

By William Gabrenya, professor emeritus, School of Psychology

Phil Farber, associate professor, emeritus faculty

For this issue, I pick on Philip D. Farber, associate professor and emeritus faculty member.

Farber grew up in Brooklyn, New York, long before the hipster renaissance, then decamped to SUNY-Stony Brook to pursue a decidedly hard science trajectory as a mathematics major. 

After a 2 1/2-year stint in the Peace Corps, during which he taught sports in Valera, Venezuela, he took a propitious trip to neighboring Columbia, where he met his future wife, Nohra, who has now been with him for nearly half a century.

After earning an M.A. in psychology at Bradley University in 1975, he received his Ph.D. in clinical psychology in 1980 after an internship at Ohio State University. He joined the clinical psychology program in our School of Psychology (SoP) in January of 1991, which at that time included just eight full-time faculty. 

He brought with him Nohra, his 18-month-old daughter, Kristin, and his three-month-old son, Scott. He forthwith purchased his treasured motorcycle, his main source of transportation for some years.  The SoP at that time cohabited with humanities (now SAC) in the Crawford Building, where Phil and I shared an office for a year. It was in this office that the famous spider incident took place.

Phil initially taught courses in group processes and group psychotherapy, and with the curriculum changes that took place alongside Florida Tech’s transition from a quarter to a semester schedule in the early ’90s, he picked up courses in psychodiagnostics and management and administration of mental health services.

Phil teaches a death and dying course in spring 2020, displaying his iconic sense of humor as he inserts jokes about death into his presentation.

Later, after a fateful encounter with the existentialist writer Simone de Beauvoir1, he added existential/ humanistic models of psychotherapy and death and dying.

Phil served as the associate director, then director, of clinical training (DoCT) for the Psy.D. program from 1986 to 2002 but recidivated in 2005 for another three years. He led the program through three accreditations efforts during this time and subsequently served for four years as a consultant to the APA Committee on Accreditation, assisting 21 other Psy.D. programs in their accreditation efforts.

As DoCT, he also participated actively in the National Council of Schools and Programs in Professional Psychology, first in a five-year term as its secretary/treasurer and then as its president-elect, president and past president for an additional three years.  Back home at Florida Tech, he was an active member of our faculty senate and served a two year-term as its president.

In the present day SoP, with over 30 faculty members and not insignificant turnover, transitions are common and warrant, at best, some sandwiches and cake in a classroom, but when Phil stepped down from DoCT, the department threw a big party for him, complete with toasts, a roast and other indignities.

Over his many years in our clinical psychology program, Phil was voted by the clinical student body as Outstanding Faculty Professor, Advisor and Mentor on four different occasions, awards that clearly mean the most to him, as evidenced by the many plaques on his office walls.

Phil also maintained a quarter-time private practice during the last couple decades of his tenure at Florida Tech, providing, as he says, as an incredibly rich source of information and experience to “breathe life” into his clinical teaching and supervision.

Although Phil identifies himself as a clinical psychologist, a faculty member and an administrator, he is an amateur athlete at heart. Back in the day, he was voted the MVP of his college track team for three years, and in recent times, he has thoroughly enjoyed playing both baseball and softball.

Now, as a still-vertical fossil, he has ventured into road cycling, a valued achievement of which was completion of a 100-mile ride to Mount Dora, Florida. Fabulous.

If you missed “Fabulous Fossils Still Vertical” season 1, featuring Frank Webbe, the department’s first full-time faculty member, check out the video and previous issue of Journey.

1. Jean Paul Sarte’s partner and author of the influential feminist monograph, The Second Sex. This encounter never actually happened, Phil speaks fluent Spanish, and it is unlikely that de Beauvoir would speak anything but French.
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