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Behavioral Scientist, Social Worker Robert Anderson to Receive Honorary Doctorate

INDIANA, Pa.—Retired Air Force officer Lt. Col. Robert C. Anderson, an internationally recognized behavioral scientist and social worker, will receive an honorary doctor of public service degree at Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s December undergraduate commencement ceremony.

Anderson is a 1967 graduate of IUP. He is a founder of the Utah Valley Family Medicine Residency, Provo, Utah, and currently serves as the program’s director of behavioral medicine and bioethics, a position he has held since October 1994.

The recommendation was approved by the IUP Council of Trustees on Oct. 31 and recently by the Office of the Chancellor of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. Anderson was nominated by the IUP Senate Academic Committee and recommended for the degree by the IUP Commencement Committee and IUP President Tony Atwater.

IUP’s December undergraduate commencement ceremony is Dec. 14 at 1:30 p.m. in Memorial Field House. Anderson also will serve as the speaker for the ceremony.

IUP has granted only 49 honorary degrees in its history. Others receiving this honor include Congressman John P. Murtha, Oscar Arias Sanchez, Andre Previn, James “Jimmy” Stewart, Art Rooney, Fred Rogers, former governor Richard Thornburg and retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

A native of Cheswick, he started his career as a staff social worker at St. Francis General Hospital and Rehabilitation Institute in Pittsburgh in 1971.

He formerly worked in private practice in clinical social work in Panama City, Fla., and as chief of social work services with the 325th Medical Group at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida; chief of behavioral medicine at Prince Abdulla Air Base in Saudi Arabia and Sheik Isa Air Base in Bahrain; chief of the mental health clinic at Rhein Main Air Base in Germany; chief of the behavioral medicine and bioethics family practice residency program at David Grant U.S. Air Force Medical Center at Travis Air Force Base in California; chief of behavioral medicine and bioethics family practice residency program at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio; and chief of the mental health clinic at Ellsworth Air Force Base in Rapid City, S.D.

In addition to his degree from IUP, Anderson has a master’s degree in social service administration from the University of Chicago, a master of divinity from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago and a doctorate in health care education from Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

A 20-year Air Force veteran, Anderson is the recipient of the Air Force Social Worker of the Year Award, the Air Force Association Humanitarian Award, six Air Force Meritorious Medals, two Air Force Achievement Medals, the National Defense Service Medal with Bronze Star, the Kuwait Liberation Medal and the Southwest Asia Service Medal with two Bronze Stars. He also is a recipient of the IUP Distinguished Alumni Award.

Anderson is a graduate of the USAF Air War College and was a 10-term president of the Society of Air Force Social Workers.

Anderson has worked disasters, terrorist attacks and with individuals suffering from combat stress during his deployments to Ramstein Air Base after the 1988 air show disaster, Homestead Air Force Base in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew, and Egypt, Somalia, and Kenya as a part of Operation Restore Hope.

He responded to the terrorist bombing of the Marine compound in Beirut, the bombing of the Frankfurt Airport, the bombing of the Rhein Main Air Base headquarters building, the Achille Lauro hostage return, the bombing of the Frankfurt Army Post Exchange, the hijacking of a Pan Am Clipper to Karachi, the return of the USS Stark dead after an Iraqi missile attack in the Persian Gulf, the bombing of a Pan Am Clipper over Lockerbie, Scotland, the hijacking of a Hungarian airliner, and the fatal crash of a medevac helicopter from the University of Utah Medical Center.

He provided training in hostage recovery for personnel at the Air Force Medical Center in Wiesbaden, Germany, who were tasked to bring hostages from Middle East captivity. He has also consulted with colleagues who responded to the US Air crash outside Pittsburgh and the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City.

Anderson was one of the original behavioral scientists chosen to pioneer the development of the behavioral medicine and bioethics components of Air Force family medicine residency programs and was a founder of the family medicine residency at Travis Air Force Base in California.

He has served on the faculty at the Wright State University and University of Utah schools of medicine and has been a consultant in terrorism and psychological operations to the Military Airlift Command surgeon, the Air Combat Command surgeon and the United States Special Operations Command. He has also been a consultant to the National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Action in Southeast Asia on issues of grief and bereavement and to the Alabama Department of Public Health on disaster preparedness.