Faculty & Staff
Peter A. de Villiers
Sophia & Austin Smith Professor of Psychology
|Send E-mail||Office: Bass Hall 404||Phone: (413) 585-3908
Lab: (413) 585-3956
Office Hours: Sabbatical
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 he 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.
De Villiers and his wife Jill, a developmental psycholinguist who also teaches at Smith, live in a rambling old Victorian house two miles from the college with their dog Sula, a chihuahua/King Charles spaniel mix. They have two adult children who are off creating careers for themselves.
De Villiers is an avid perennial flower gardener with seven border beds that he tends at the Putney School in Vermont where his children were students during the 1990s. He enjoys baking vegan cakes and pastries and regularly tries out new recipes on Smith students at teas for the STRIDE Scholars Program, which he coordinates.