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Faculty & Staff

Peter A. de Villiers
Sophia & Austin Smith Professor of Psychology

email Send E-mail office Office: Bass Hall 404 phone Phone: (413) 585-3908
Lab: (413) 585-3956

Office Hours: Mondays 2:45pm- 4pm and Fridays 1:30- 2:30 pm

Peter de Villiers was born in Durban, South Africa and received his undergraduate education at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, where he majored in philosophy and theology. In 1967, Peter won a Rhodes Scholarship from the Eastern Province region of South Africa to study at Oxford University. There he completed a second B.A. in psychology and philosophy in 1970, though he admits to spending as much time on the Iffley Road athletic fields as president of the Oxford University Athletic Team as he did in the library. In 1969 he won the British AAA decathlon championships and in 1970 he broke the South Africa decathlon record in winning the British Universities Championships.

In 1970 de Villiers received a Charles and Julia Henry Fellowship to come to Harvard University as a graduate student in psychology. He completed his Ph.D. in experimental psychology in 1974 and was hired as an assistant professor at Harvard. In 1979 he came to Smith College as associate professor of psychology.

Peter and his wife Jill, a developmental psycholinguist who also teaches at Smith, live in a cottage behind a rambling old Victorian house two miles from the college with their dog Sula. Their daughter Charlotte and her husband and two young sons, Oliver and Graham, live in the big house, so Peter and Jill enjoy a great deal of time with their grandsons. They also have a son, Nick, who is an Associate Professor of English and Film Studies at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville.

Peter is an avid perennial flower gardener and enjoys baking vegan cakes and cookies, which he regularly tries out new recipes on Smith students at research lab teas and functions for the STRIDE Scholars.