headshot of Sam Catanzaro
Sam Catanzaro

Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Aondover Tarhule announced the retirement of Associate Vice President for Academic Administration Sam Catanzaro, effective June 30. 

The campus community is invited to a virtual reception celebrating Dr. Catanzaro’s 33 years at Illinois State at 3 p.m. Friday, June 4 via Zoom. Remarks will begin at 3 p.m. A virtual guest book is also available. 

Catanzaro arrived at Illinois State in 1988 as assistant professor of psychology. He was awarded tenure in 1994 and promoted to professor in 1999. He served as a sequence and program coordinator in his department and in 2002, he was appointed associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. He joined the Provost’s Office in 2011. 

Catanzaro’s teaching and research interests lie at the intersection of personality and clinical psychology. His primary scholarly contributions investigate individual differences in the regulation of negative mood states, with a particular focus on how people’s general beliefs about their ability to do something to help themselves feel better when they feel upset influence coping and adaptation. Dr. Catanzaro and his long-time friend and colleague, Dr. Jack Mearns, developed a measure of these beliefs while they were graduate students. Since then, this measure has been used extensively in research around the world, having been translated into German, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Indonesian, Turkish, and Hebrew. “Higher scores on this measure predict more adaptive coping responses under stress, better performance under stress, quicker recovery from negative moods, and fewer symptoms of emotional distress and ill health,” said Catanzaro. “Strengthened mood regulation beliefs early in psychotherapy are predictive of better long-term outcomes for at least two conditions, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.” A measure of emotional states in children, developed in collaboration with Dr. Jeff Laurent and Dr. Thomas Joiner, also has been widely used and translated into several languages. This research program provided high-impact learning experiences for graduate and undergraduate students, and he was especially proud of the way more advanced students mentored their less-experienced counterparts in his lab. Catanzaro is a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science and a Charter Fellow of the Midwestern Psychological Association. 

Highlights of Dr. Catanzaro’s administrative career include initiating the first College-wide group mentoring/professional development programs for early-career, tenure-track faculty, and just-tenured faculty. He chaired a faculty retention committee focused on inclusion, especially for women and those from traditionally underrepresented populations. As a member of the Provost’s Office, he led the Leadership Initiative and other professional development programs, served on the Campus Climate Task Force, and led implementation of several Campus Climate action items. He served on the Board of Directors for the Council of Colleges of Arts and Sciences from 2008-2011, completed the Institute for Educational Management at the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2014, and was a member of the 2017-18 cohort of the Academy for Innovative Higher Education Leadership. Catanzaro has taken particular pride in fostering collegial relationships and in mentoring emerging leaders. 

“For over three decades, Sam has served the University as a thoughtful and dedicated leader,” said Provost Tarhule. “His focus on faculty and staff development, and his stewardship of university policies, will positively impact our campus for years to come.  As the new provost, I especially benefitted from and appreciated Sam’s deep institutional knowledge, his sense of judgement, and impeccable integrity.  We are thankful for his dedication to excellence, and I know we all wish him well.” 

Provost Tarhule has initiated a call for nominations for an interim assistant vice president position that will entail many of Dr. Catanzaro’s duties. Details on this appointment and a transition plan will be announced in the near future.