Dr. Carmen Michael: Professor Emeritus, mental health trailblazer

By Remekca Owens

Dr. Carmen Miller Michael, Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at UT Southwestern Medical Center and longtime community mental health advocate, died Dec. 1, 2013. She was 87.

After joining the UT Southwestern faculty in 1951, Dr. Michael served as the medical center’s first clinical psychologist and chief psychologist from 1951 to 1958.  She was also an early leader of UT Southwestern’s graduate program in Clinical Psychology. The program, founded in 1958, now leads to American Psychological Association-accredited Ph.D. s and predoctoral internships in four areas – health psychology/behavioral medicine, neuropsychology, child psychology, and general clinical psychology.

“Dr. Michael was a true paragon as a psychologist,” said Dr. C. Munro Cullum, Chief of Psychology and Professor of Psychiatry, and Neurology and Neurotherapeutics. “She served as a role model in so many ways for countless trainees and faculty members at UT Southwestern over the years.  Her many contributions to education and clinical service were equaled only by her selfless commitment and contributions to the community. To know Carmen was an honor.”

A native of Dallas, Dr. Michael graduated from Southern Methodist University in 1945 , then earned a Master’s in Psychology from Columbia University, and a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Western Reserve University in 1951. 

In 1998, during her tenure as Professor Emeritus, Dr. Michael established the Carmen Miller Michael Award in Clinical Psychology as an opportunity to assist students in their academic endeavors and to honor outstanding scholarship, citizenship, and clinical skills. To date, 17 students have received the award.

In addition to her leadership at the medical center, Dr. Michael extended her passion for mental health advocacy and mentoring to the community. She founded and served as first President of both the Dallas Epilepsy Association and the Dallas Mental Health Society, now known as Mental Health America of Greater Dallas. She was also a board member and president of numerous health organizations including CHAI (Community Homes for Adults, Incorporated), the Visiting Nurse Association, the Child Care Group, and Dallas Child and Family. In 2013 Dr. Michael was honored for her lifelong dedication by the Dallas Historical Society for excellence in community service in the health and sciences category.

“Dr. Michael will remain one of the most respected members of our faculty by her colleagues and students at our university, but also by the larger community,” said Dr. Beth Kennard, Professor of Psychiatry and current Program Chair of Clinical Psychology. “Many of her contributions occurred at a time when these services not only did not exist, but at a time when there was a stigma associated with these conditions. The fact that she also accomplished so much as a young woman in a largely male-dominated society is particularly admirable.”

Dr. Cullum holds the Pam Blumenthal Distinguished Professorship in Clinical Psychology.

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