As a professor, if you had one lecture left to give, what would it be about?
This question was posed to Eugene Gilden, professor of psychology, and he responded with a lecture titled, “From Type A Behavior to Black Helicopters or Subtle Influences on Human Behavior.” It may sound far-fetched, but the lecture was a synopsis of his career at Linfield and his interest in psychology.
Gilden will retire at the end of this school year. He has taught at Linfield for 30 years.
The audience was engaged and entertained throughout the presentation. Gilden’s sense of humor was evident even before he began speaking.
Lee Bakner, professor of psychology, began the presentation saying Gilden wanted the audience to know three things he was proud of after his 30 years at Linfield:
“Thirty plus years with an extraordinary spouse, two successful daughters and professionals and dogs that come when called.”
Bakner ended his introduction and called for applause for Gilden. The applause was thunderous. Gilden, thanked everyone, and said, “First, I don’t know if I wish I was at a loss for words so we could all go home.”
Gilden urged the audience to think about the importance of relationships between people and situations. He repeatedly said that the way humans think about the world matters, and there are implications for how humans think. He related it to thinking about “the forest as a whole…not just the trees.”
Gilden’s career is a bunch of impressive trees that create a beautiful forest.
He received his bachelor’s degree from UCLA, his master’s from California State University and his Ph.D. from the University of Houston. After completing a post-doctoral fellowship at Oregon Health-Sciences University, he accepted a position at Linfield, where he has been ever since.
Gilden weaved his autobiographical story with these underlying themes for the crowded audience, and as he ended his lecture, he thanked everyone who had influenced his life. He closed with a smile, and what he said was the most important thing to take away from his lecture: “You might have built it, but if you did, you only did so because someone got you to the right set of circumstances to do so.”
After 30 years at Linfield, Gilden’s impact cannot be squeezed into one lecture. But judging by the response of the audience, his impact has clearly given students and faculty the best possible circumstances to succeed.
Tyler Bradley can be reached at