We are celebrating Prof. Herbert A. Toops because it was this week in 1975 that the Board of Trustees named a prize after him for creativity in psychology. And creative Toops was. The expert in standardized testing became involved in data processing, and the psychology department ended up with a free computer because of it, courtesy of IBM.
Toops started his career at OSU as an undergrad, graduating in 1916 with both a B.A. and a B.S. in education. He earned a master’s degree in education the next year, then taught at OSU for a year. After receiving a scholarship to Columbia University, he earned his Ph.D at that university in 1921. After several years working for the U.S. Army and the U.S. Department of Labor, he returned to OSU in 1923 as an assistant professor of psychology. In 1927 he was promoted to professor.
During his 42 years as an educator at Ohio State, Toops became well-known for his work with standardized testing; in fact, he was the creator of the Ohio State Psychological Examination (OSPE), which at one time was given to all incoming freshmen to test their aptitude for college. In his work on standardized testing, he became involved in data processing. According to an obituary published in the Board of Trustees minutes after Toops’ death in 1972, his early involvement in data processing led to IBM giving the Department of Psychology a computer – it was the University’s first.
During his long career at OSU, he supervised 16 doctoral and 20 master’s degree candidates, and published more than 150 articles. He retired in summer 1965 and passed away on August 14, 1972.