Brief Biographical Summary

studies of education
studies of psychology

poetry and fiction








Updated 2005

Roland George Tharp is a distinguished researcher, psychologist, educator, writer and filmmaker. Over the course of his career he has received repeated recognition for excellence and leadership in every arena of his work.

Tharp is professor emeritus of education and psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Hawaii. He is the founding director of the national Center for Research on Education, Diversity & Excellence (CREDE) and the Kamehameha Elementary Education Program (KEEP). His research focuses on human development, psychotherapy, community psychology, education, culture, anthropology and applied linguistics. Tharp is considered a distinguished researcher, practitioner and author in the areas of education, educational reform, and the development of sociocultural theory. His work spans 42 years.

Born in Galveston, Texas, in 1930, and raised in La Marque, Texas, Tharp earned his bachelor's degree (cum laude) at the University of Houston. At the University of Michigan he earned a Master of Arts and, in 1961, a Ph.D. in social and clinical psychology. That same year he received Michigan’s major Hopwood Poetry Award.

He taught at the University of Arizona from 1961 until 1968, when he became founding director of clinical psychology training at the University of Hawaii, where he began his systematic studies of culture and education. With UCLA professor of psychology Ronald Gallimore, Tharp won the Grawemeyer Award in 1993 for the book Rousing Minds to Life (1991, Cambridge University Press). The book is based on work done during Tharp's tenure as Principal Investigator of KEEP in Honolulu from 1969-1986. KEEP was the first (and is still recognized as the best) research and development school for cultural minority students.

Tharp retired from the University of Hawaii in 1989, was briefly Vice-President for Academic Affairs of United States International University, and, in 1990, joined the faculty at the University of California, Santa Cruz. His principal work there was done through two national education research centers, particularly CREDE. He retired from the University of California in 2004.

Tharp is also a prize-winning poet, short-story author, and filmmaker. His latest book is Teaching Transformed: Achieving Excellence, Fairness, Inclusion, and Harmony (2000, Westview Press). Co-authored with several CREDE researchers, the book is a summary treatment of what we know and what we need to do in education for diverse students. He is currently writing a memoir, and continues to explore the possibilities of a universal theory of human behavior change and development. He considers his highest honor to be the festschrift volume published in 2005 by his students and colleagues, Papers in Honor of Roland G. Tharp: Culture and context in human behavior change: Theory, research, and applications.

For additional details, please see complete curriculum vitae.


Biographical Texts

Festschrift. Papers in Honor of Roland G. Tharp
O'Donnell, C. R., & Yamauchi, L. A. (Eds.) (2005). Culture and context in human behavior change: Theory, research, and applications. NY: Peter Lang.

Chapter 11: Man of Knowledge and Conviction: Biographical Tribute to Roland Tharp
Lisa Tsoi Hoshmand