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UF mourns passing of leading child psychologist

Stephen R. Boggs, Ph.D., a national leader in the study of treatment programs for children with behavioral problems and their families, died suddenly Wednesday, Aug. 13. He was 61.

Stephen R. Boggs, PhD., ABPP (Click image for high res. download)A University of Florida associate professor in the department of clinical and health psychology, the director of the UF Center for Pediatric Psychology and Family Studies, and the director of the doctoral program in clinical psychology, Boggs joined the faculty of the UF College of Public Health and Health Professions in 1986. He quickly impressed his UF colleagues with his passion for teaching and commitment to his patients.

“Steve was a thoughtful and caring teacher, a dedicated and compassionate clinician, and a kind and gentle man,” said Michael G. Perri, Ph.D., dean of the College of Public Health and Health Professions and the Robert G. Frank endowed professor of clinical psychology. “He will be missed greatly by his students, colleagues and friends.” 

In his research, Boggs focused on the use of Parent-Child Interaction Therapy for the treatment of child behavior issues. Originally developed by Boggs’ UF colleague Sheila Eyberg, Ph.D., Parent-Child Interaction Therapy is a live-coached parent-training model that is designed to improve parenting skills, decrease child behavior problems and enhance the quality of the parent-child relationship. Boggs published more than 60 peer-reviewed journal articles and scholarly chapters on this technique and other child health psychology issues. In 2009 he received the National Award for Significant Contributions to Parent-Child Interaction Therapy from PCIT International.

“I am deeply saddened by the unexpected passing of my close friend and colleague,” said Eyberg, a distinguished professor emeritus. “He was a fun, caring, loyal friend, and a colleague who modeled true commitment to training and high standards of intellectual honesty.”

Over the course of his career, Boggs’ research was funded by agencies that included the American Cancer Society, the Arthur Vining Davis Foundation, the Children’s Miracle Network, the Florida Disabilities Council, the National Institute of Dental Research, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and the National Institute of Mental Health. He was a diplomate of the American Board of Professional Psychology, a fellow of the American Board of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology and a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Pediatric Psychology.

For all his many achievements at the local, state and national levels, fellow faculty members said that Boggs’ most lasting legacy may be the 184 doctoral and master’s students he mentored over the past 25 years, twice winning his department’s teaching excellence award.

“Steve’s commitment and energy for student training and for the department of clinical and health psychology, among so many other things, will be dearly missed both personally and professionally,” said David Janicke, Ph.D., an associate professor and interim chair of the department.

Boggs earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from West Virginia University, a master’s degree in psychology and applied behavior analysis from University of the Pacific and a doctoral degree in child clinical psychology from West Virginia University.

Boggs’ death is a great loss to the profession and to the UF clinical psychology program, said Russell Bauer, Ph.D., a professor in the department of clinical and health psychology.

“He was, above all, a sentient, caring and dedicated person whose influence will be felt mostly by the students he helped, the faculty he led, and by his friends and family, to whom he was an enduring source of strength and loyalty,” Bauer said. “It is hard for me to imagine the department of clinical and health psychology without Steve Boggs.”

He is survived by his mother Dottie Boggs, cousin Tammy Ward and godson Benjamin.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the UF Craniofacial Clinic in Boggs’ name. He worked tirelessly for children with craniofacial anomalies, family and friends said, and working with children at the clinic and at the weekend Cranio Camps was one of his great joys and passions. Please make donation checks payable to “UFF” (University of Florida Foundation) and reference “Family Network project F003647” to support Cranio Camp. Mail to Jeff Jurgens, UF department of clinical and health psychology, P.O. Box 100165, Gainesville FL 32610-0165.

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Jill Pease

Public Relations Director, College of Public Health and Health Professions

Jill Pease is the public relations director for the UF College of Public Health and Health Professions. She is responsible for developing public relations and communications strategies to promote the...Read More