Slater Edmund Newman, psychology professor and human-rights activist, passed away peacefully at home, May 13, 2015. A Raleigh resident since 1957, Slater was known for his love of singing, family gatherings, and special events, and his sense of humor. He could be found every month for 35 years at the Vigil for Disarmament on Fayetteville Street and most Sunday evenings at Char-Grill.
Slater is survived by his cherished wife and best friend of 46 years, Pat, by his sons, Dr. Kurt Newman and wife, Alison, of Bethesda, MD, Jonathan Newman and wife, Dawn Nakashima, of Berkeley, CA, Eric Newman of Renton, WA, and his stepson, Chet Thomas, and wife, Gere Warrick, of Athens, GA. He leaves behind four grandchildren, Robert and Jack Newman of Bethesda, Aya Newman of Berkeley, and Marina Thomas of Brooklyn, NY, his sister-in-law and brother-in-law, Sue and Clay Jones of Wilmington, by many nieces, nephews, and cousins from hither and yon and by his canine pride and joy, Shelby.
Slater was born in Boston, MA, on September 8, 1924 to Max and Gertrude (Raphael) Newman, raised in nearby Malden, where he graduated from high school in 1941. In 1947, he graduated from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in Economics. While at Penn, he played tennis, sang in the glee club and served as president of Pi Lambda Phi, the nation’s first nonsectarian social fraternity. His education was interrupted by service in Alaska and Yukon Territory with the Army Air Corps. In 1948 he received an MA in Psychology from Boston U. and, in 1951, a PhD in Psychology from Northwestern. His first position was as a Research Psychologist with the USAF.
In 1957, he joined the faculty of NC State University, from which he retired in 2003 as Professor Emeritus of Psychology. At NCSU, he taught undergraduate and graduate courses in cognitive psychology, did research on human learning and memory and mentored hundreds of students who remember Dr. Newman fondly for his encouragement, high expectations, and fairness. He founded the Human Rights Week Committee and served as faculty advisor for the student chapters of Amnesty International and Psi Chi, the international honor society for Psychology. Slater was awarded the Holladay Medal of Excellence; The Slater E. Newman Scholarship Endowment was established in 1997, which provides support for first-year students in Psychology.
Within psychology, he founded the Southeastern Workers in Memory, the NC Cognition Group and was a co-founder of the Carolinas Conference for Undergraduate Research in Psychology. He served on the Board of Directors of the Southeastern Psychological Association, and as National President of Psi Chi. Honors included Fellow of the following organizations: American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Psychological Association, Association for Psychological Science and the Psychonomic Society. He was also selected to be A Distinguished Visitor of the American Psychological Association.
Slater was also known as human rights and peace activist and was involved in the founding of the ACLU of North Carolina and its Wake County chapter, North Carolinians Against the Death Penalty, North Carolinians Against Apartheid, North Carolinians for the Ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), Human Rights Coalition of North Carolina, Citizens Against Nuclear Power, Committee to Reverse the Arms Race and was active in the governance of each. At the same time, he would often write lyrics appropriate for each group that could be sung to popular melodies and lead sing-alongs at meetings and events.
Slater served on the National Board of the ACLU for several years and was elected to its National Advisory Council. Honors received include the W. W. Finlator Award (ACLU of Wake County), Norman Smith Award and Frank Porter Graham Award (ACLU of NC), Peacemaker Award (NC Peace Action), Carolyn and Cy King Peace and Justice Award (Community United Church of Christ, Raleigh), and Human Rights Award (Wake County and West Triangle chapters of the United Nations Assoc.). The ACLU of Wake County established the Slater Newman Educational Forum in 2006.
Cremation and private arrangements by City of Oaks in Raleigh. A memorial service to celebrate his life will be held in the future, date and location to be announced. Contributions may be made to the Slater E. Newman Scholarship, N.C. State University, c/o University Development, Box 7501, Raleigh, NC 27695, to the ACLU of North Carolina, P.O. Box 28004, Raleigh, NC 27611 or to a charity of one’s choice.