MSU Psychology holds memorial luncheon in honor of Dr. Deborah Kashy

April 15, 2024 - Shelly DeJong

Brent Donnellan speaks at the memorial luncheon in honor of Deborah Kashy.

Faculty, staff, alumni, graduate students, and friends gathered to remember and celebrate the lasting impact of Dr. Deborah “Debby” Kashy who passed away on September 8, 2023.  

With nearly 25 years of service at Michigan State University, Kashy established a record of remarkable achievements and exceptional service to MSU and the field of social psychology. A world-renowned researcher, Kashy was known for her work on dyadic data analysis and interpersonal relationships. 

The memorial lunch was held at the Kellogg Center on March 29, 2024, and was followed by two keynote speakers including Dr. David Kenny, Kashy’s graduate advisor, frequent collaborator, and renowned methodologist in the field, and Dr. Robert Ackerman, one of Kashy’s most prominent graduate students from her time at MSU. After the keynote talks, an open mic was available for other remembrances. 

A headshot of Dr. Deborah Kashy.Dean of the College of Social Science, Brent Donnellan, paid tribute to Kashy as a colleague, mentor, and friend. 

"In a myriad of ways, large and small, Debby taught me how to be a better scholar, how to navigate academia, and more than a few things about being an adult. She was that person in my life who could deliver blunt feedback in ways that were authentic and honest. She shaped my idea of what it means to be a colleague,” said Donnellan. “I hope we can honor her by strengthening our community through sharing research, scholarship, and connection.” 

Kashy coauthored over 160 scientific publications, received over 32,000 citations, and earned multiple awards. Among her notable contributions was co-authoring a reference book on analyzing dyadic data, Dyadic Data Analysis, which has become the go-to resource for social scientists. She also served as the senior associate editor, associate editor, and consulting editor for top journals throughout her career including Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin and Personal Relationships. 

In 2023, the College of Social Science formally recognized Kashy’s weighty contributions to the field of social and personality psychology at Michigan State through the Lifetime Achievement Award. including her impact on generations of students and early career professionals. As a highly respected teacher and mentor, Kashy was dedicated to helping students understand complex statistical concepts and she was committed to excellence in teaching. Numerous attendees mentioned her selfless approach as a mentor who generously invested her time into graduate students who were not her own.   

Dr. Ackerman speaks at the luncheon about his friendship with Debby Kashy.Throughout the memorial, Kashy’s colleagues remembered her not only for her accomplishments but also for her kindness, generosity, and no-nonsense approach to life. 

Ackerman shared that she was a down-to-earth, excellent teacher, and a role model for how he wanted to teach. As a social person, Kashy often organized minimal-stakes poker games and was intentional in trying to connect with others. 

“If you had the chance to know her personally, you knew her to be super warm, supportive, and caring. Debby was also super protective of students and other junior faculty. She fought when she perceived injustice and if something was unfair, Debby made sure to tell you about it. She also had a lot of integrity in getting things right,” said Ackerman. “Outside of losing an excellent researcher, teacher, and mentor, losing a friend hurts the most.”