Putting a name on history


Thanks to the extraordinary generosity of Drs. Nicholas A. and Dorothy M. Cummings, mental health professionals, historians, writers, students and all who are fascinated by what it means to be human will have a place to call home for generations to come, on the campus of The University of Akron — a unique place to probe the history of psychology.   

The Cummings

The donation by Drs. Nicholas and Dorothy Cummings is the largest in the Center's history.

With a historic gift from the Cummings of $3.5 million — following an earlier $1.5 million gift — the Center for the History of Psychology has its future secured and will be renamed the Drs. Nicholas and Dorothy Cummings Center for the History of Psychology. 

Founded in 1965 at The University of Akron as the Archives of the History of American Psychology, the Cummings Center for the History of Psychology — as it now will be known — has emerged as the national clearinghouse and protector of irreplaceable artifacts, collecting, preserving and making available primary source material in the history of psychology.

Historic collections

The Cummings Center houses numerous rare collections — from media to manuscripts and from tests to instruments — as well as materials from a Nobel Laureate and many of the most iconic objects in the history of psychology. The strength of these holdings is reflected in the Cummings Center’s designation as a Smithsonian Affiliate.

The multimillion dollar gift will allow the Cummings Center to expand its museum and construct a dedicated research space and offices for visiting scholars and staff. It also will fund an endowment to support a full-time associate director position, enabling the director to focus on fundraising and advancing the Cummings Center’s reputation.

Drs. Nicholas and Dorothy Cummings Center for the History of Psychology

Drs. Nicholas and Dorothy Cummings Center for the History of Psychology.

“It is more important than ever that future generations of psychologists have access to their heritage,” said the Cummings in making their gift. “The Cummings family is proud to be a part of this important endeavor, and we congratulate The University of Akron and the center as it ensures this history.”

Transformational gift 

According to Dr. David Baker, Margaret Clark Morgan Executive Director of the Cummings Center, “The Cummings are synonymous with transformation and innovation in psychology. Their generous support ensures that the complete historical record of the science and practice of psychology will be available for generations to come. This transformational gift allows us to greatly expand our museum and research facilities and supports our ability to tell the story of the history of psychology."

Dr. Nicholas Cummings is widely considered the world’s foremost entrepreneur in psychology. A former president of the American Psychological Association, as well as its clinical psychology and psychotherapy divisions, Cummings is highly regarded as a trailblazer.

Highlights of his extensive career include establishing numerous national and state organizations to advance the profession of psychology; serving as chief of mental health for Kaiser Permanente; founding American Biodyne, the nation's first and only psychology-driven managed behavioral health organization; and testifying before Congress 18 times  all while seeing 40 to 50 patients per week in private practice.

In 2008, Cummings designed and, with Arizona State University (ASU), launched the state-of-the-art Doctor of Behavioral Health program, now in ASU’s School of Health Solutions, alongside the medical and nursing schools and other innovative health-care programs. The author of more than 450 journal articles and 51 books, Cummings is the recipient of numerous awards, including psychology’s highest, the APF Gold Medal for Lifetime Achievement in Practice, which highlighted the commitment to social justice that has characterized his professional life.

He is a Distinguished Professor at Arizona State University and continues as Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of Nevada, Reno. He also is president of the Cummings Foundation for Behavioral Health and chairs the board of directors of The Nicholas and Dorothy Cummings Foundation.

A native of Salinas, Calif., Cummings earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of California at Berkeley, his master’s degree in psychology from Claremont Graduate University, and his doctorate in clinical psychology from Adelphi University. He also has been awarded five honorary doctorates — the most recent of which was bestowed upon him and his wife by The University of Akron.

Dr. Dorothy Mills Cummings, married to Nicholas for more than 65 years, is a noted licensed clinical social worker. She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of California at Los Angeles and her master’s degree in psychiatric social work from Adelphi University. Her career has included positions with family service agencies in New York City and San Francisco, including the Golden Gate Community Mental Health Center and the Sacramento Unified School District. Currently she is secretary/treasurer of The Nicholas and Dorothy Cummings Foundation and a director of the Cummings Foundation for Behavioral Health.

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