Nicholas Hobbs (1915-1983) was a pioneer in the field of child psychology, developing new concepts for treating children with emotional problems and children with intellectual disabilities. He was chair of the Division of Human Development at Peabody, which combined psychology, special education, a Child Study Center, and important research projects. Under his leadership, interest grew in socially vulnerable children, leading to educational and research emphases in intellectual disabilities, emotional disturbance, and sensory-motor disorders. He was instrumental in Peabody's establishment of training programs in clinical, counseling, and school psychology, special education leadership, and research in intellectual disabilities.
As a member of President John Kennedy's panel on intellectual disabilities, Hobbs saw the need for a national effort to understand and ameliorate developmental problems. He co-founded the national program of intellectual disabilities research centers, founded Peabody's Kennedy Center, and served as its founding director.
Hobbs was the first director of selection and research for the Peace Corps. He was vice-chair of the Joint Commission on Mental Health and Illness, which gave rise to the Community Mental Health Centers Act and helped set in motion a revolution in the care of persons with mental illness. He served on the Select Panel for the Promotion of Child Health. His contributions helped promote universal access to child health services.
Hobbs's life was devoted to creating a "competent and caring society." His legacy is the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, a national resource for children.
"To the children of our nation whose hope lies in our caring and whose futures are our trust."
- Nicholas Hobbs.