UNCW Professor to Lead American Psychological Association

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Antonio Puente, Ph.D., a psychology professor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, has been elected 2017 president of the 122,500-member American Psychological Association.

Puente is the first person from the UNC system ever to be elected to this position. The only other person from North Carolina to be elected president of the APA was from Duke University, nearly 70 years ago.

“This is an extraordinary achievement,” said Julian Keith, Department of Psychology chair. “We are proud of Tony’s commitment to the APA and the enthusiasm that led him to seek the presidency of this national organization. His achievement is representative of the dedicated, highly qualified faculty who make up the UNCW Department of Psychology.” 

In addition to teaching psychology at UNCW, Puente maintains a private practice in neuropsychology, ranging from clinical inpatient and outpatient services to forensic assessments. He also is the founder and co-director of mental health services at the Cape Fear Clinic, a bilingual health center serving the poor and uninsured. A longtime member and a past president of the clinic’s board of directors, he holds the title of president emeritus. Puente was founding director of UNCW Centro Hispano.

In his new leadership role, Puente said one of his top goals will be to erase the divide between physical and mental health care. “By integrating all health care disciplines, we can more effectively diagnose and treat the whole person,” he explained.

Born in Havana, Cuba, Puente received his undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Florida and his master’s degree and Ph.D. from the University of Georgia. He has lectured in more than a dozen foreign countries and holds appointments as a visiting professor at the Universidad de Granada (Spain), UCLA and UNC-Chapel Hill.

Puente was a Fulbright Scholar in 1983 in Argentina and received the APA’s Distinguished Professional Contributions to Independent Practice in 2011. A member of the national organization since 1979, he also has served as president of the N.C. Psychological Association, the N.C. Psychological Foundation, the National Academy of Neuropsychology, the Society for Clinical Neuropsychology and the Hispanic Neuropsychological Association.

The American Psychological Association was founded in 1892, and Puente will hold the top leadership post during its 125th anniversary year. Prior to that, he will serve a one-year term as president-elect beginning Jan. 1, 2016.

-- ­Tricia Vance