New Rowing Shell Named for Psychology Professor

Members of the Women’s Rowing Team push off from the dock at the boathouse on Coventry Lake in their new racing shell, named in honor of retired psychology professor Sam Witryol. Photo by Peter Morenus

Members of the Women’s Rowing Team push off from the dock at the boathouse on Coventry Lake in their new racing shell, named in honor of retired psychology professor Sam Witryol. Photo by Peter Morenus

Members of the UConn women’s rowing team have honored Professor Sam Witryol by naming their new Pocock racing shell after him.

The shell, now named Witryol’s Wake, Professor Sam, is being rowed by the varsity eight this spring. Witryol participated in a ceremony naming the new boat at halftime of a men’s basketball game in December, in front of the rowing team and a crowd of nearly 10,000 people. ”Sam has been a supporter and friend to UConn rowing for many years,” says rowing head coach Jennifer Sanford-Wendry.

“It’s a nice connection to be able to name a boat after a UConn professor to show the important tie between academics and athletics. And the ceremony during halftime of a basketball game gave our program and student-athletes some nice recognition. Most people couldn’t help but stop and watch, as the 60-foot shell was brought out onto the court by the team.”

Witryol has been a fixture on the UConn campus since he arrived in Storrs in 1949. He was born and raised in Syracuse, N.Y., and earned his undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral degrees from Syracuse University.

He came to UConn to teach psychology in the graduate program, and became an undergraduate professor in 1959.

Witryol started the child psychology program at UConn, which has developed into one of the country’s finest in that discipline. He is considered an expert in the development of curiosity in children.

He retired as a full-time professor in 1992, but still teaches one course each semester. He is now in his 60th consecutive year of teaching at UConn.

He took a keen interest in UConn women’s athletics from their inception, and has developed a strong camaraderie with the women’s coaches and their student-athletes.