Timothy P. McNamara is the interim dean of the College of Arts and Science and Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Chair in the Social and Natural Sciences.
McNamara has a long history of leadership roles at the university. He started his career at Vanderbilt as an assistant professor of psychology in 1983 and was promoted to associate professor in 1989 and professor in 1995. He was appointed associate provost for faculty in 2004, later becoming vice provost and adding responsibilities for international affairs (2011) and for research (2015), before stepping down at the end of 2015. His accomplishments included transforming the faculty affairs office to be focused proactively on faculty development; establishing institutional research and educational partnerships with Sun Yat-sen University in China, the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, UAE, and FAPESP in Brazil; and helping to oversee the separation of the University and the Medical Center. He served as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, Vanderbilt’s accrediting body, from 2014-2019.
He has also served in leadership positions in the College of Arts and Science, as chair of the Department Psychology from 1996-2004 and again from July 2022-June 2023. He chaired the Arts and Science Dean Search Committee in 2000 and the college’s Strategic Planning Committee from 2001-2002. For his exceptional leadership service to the Department of Psychology, the College of Arts and Science, and the broader university, McNamara received the Thomas Jefferson Award in 2019 “for distinguished service to Vanderbilt through extraordinary contributions as a member of the faculty in the councils and government of the university.”
An accomplished and prolific scholar, McNamara’s research focuses on human memory, cognition, and decision making, with a particular focus on spatial processing. He runs the Spatial Memory & Navigation Lab at Vanderbilt and has published numerous articles in prominent, peer-reviewed journals, including Cognitive Psychology, Current Biology, and Psychological Review.
His work has been recognized widely by the field: he is a fellow of the American Psychological Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Association for Psychological Science.
McNamara earned his Ph.D. from Yale University in 1984 and his bachelor's degree from the University of Kansas. He came to Vanderbilt directly out of graduate school.