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Meet Jeff Braden'76

Jeff Braden

Alumni Board Member
Contact Jeff

What is your current occupation?
Dean, College of Humanities and Social Sciences and Professor of Psychology at NC State University.

What was your major and how has that played out into your life today?
I have a B.A. in Psychology and an MAT in Elementary Ed from Beloit; both are highly relevant to my current professional life (I'm an educational/school psychologist who does research & teaching in school psychology). Furthermore, my liberal arts education (and the love of liberal arts) I acquired at Beloit is central to my role as dean--and gives me immense personal pleasure daily.

Tell us your favorite Beloit memory.
Raising the flag (sewn from three sheets, one of which we dyed green and the other orange) at the Mayer Hall flagpole St. Patrick's Day 1976. The flag raising was accompanied by a very rough version of "A Nation Once Again" played on a trumpet by fellow classmate Terese Macken. When I was in my geography class in Pearsons later that day, I pointed the flag out to the professor who asked why anybody would be flying the Italian flag that day....

What is your favorite alumni event?
Homecoming a few years ago in which we honored the Basic Elmos with the destruction of a laptop computer. Don't ask.

What do you consider your greatest achievement that Beloit has played a part in?
Me getting a college degree... who knew? Actually, there's a slightly more involved story... Back in 1977 when I was doing my MAT teaching internship in East Aurora, Ill., I was called to the office to answer a long distance phone call (big deal back then). A high, whiny voice with a NY accent declared it was none other than Alan Gardner, at that time world-renowned for the work he and his wife (Trixie) were doing teaching sign language to chimpanzees at U. Nevada-Reno. He offered me admission to a doctoral program and a full ride scholarship to come study experimental psychology and work with the chimps. I replied with a thoughtful "Yeah, sure. Who the $%^ is this really??" Of course, it turned out it was Dr. Gardner. He'd run into Psychology Professor Geoff Magnus at a psychology conference, saw "Beloit College" on his nametag, and asked for a reference on a fellow classmate who had taken the course I was teaching at Beloit in American Sign Language. I'd never had Geoff for a class, but he was my next door neighbor (then Eco House) and he often hired me to babysit his daughter, Naomi. When asked about my classmate, he gave a positive review, and then added "But the guy you really want to talk to is Jeff Braden." Although I only stayed a year with the project, it continues to be one of the most memorable (and colorful) years of my life. PS: About 20 years later, I was a professor of educational psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and went on a camp-out with my son's preschool class. One of his teachers came up to me and said "I think I know you." It was Naomi Magnus--the one I used to babysit--who was providing child care for my son, Daniel. Small world.... 

Why do you support Beloit College?
Because it laid the foundations for what and who I am today--both professionally (I actually do education, psychology, and liberal arts as a career), and personally (I'm still married to fellow alumna Jill, some 34 years later).

What do you hope to accomplish on the Alumni Board?
I want to pay it forward. Others made it possible for me to attend Beloit; I want to do the same for the next generation (as well as having a great time meeting new friends and renewing old friendships).

Any advice you have for current students?
Go with your passion. Chasing a career/job is a losing proposition; go after what you love, and the job/career will come to you.