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Culross, Rita, 1950-



  • Existence: January 31, 1950 -

Biographical Information

Dr. Rita Culross was born Rita Rodgers on January 31, 1950 in Monmouth, IL to Lee A. and Dorothy B. Rodgers. She grew up on a farm just outside of Monmouth. Her father was a farmer and at various times raised dairy cows, beef cattle, sheep, horses, and grew both soybeans and corn. Her mother was a teacher and later in life changed careers and became a school librarian. Both her parents had post-secondary education, her father graduating from the University of Illinois (1938) and her mother from Monmouth College.

Culross had an early interest in teaching and was particularly interested in gifted children however in 1968 when she started college, there weren't many programs with this focus. Culross chose Purdue and her counselor worked with her to tailor a plan of study that emphasized teaching the gifted and who also referred her to Professor Donald Treffinger in the Educational Psychology area of South Campus Courts, who offered her a job on his creativity research project. She also became acquainted with John Feldhusen, who developed the Gifted and Talented graduate program at Purdue. These two individuals influenced her to pursue research as a career and her interests developed in the social and emotional side of gifted students.

Rita met her husband Claude Culross at Purdue and they married a week after receiving their undergraduate degrees at Purdue. Both stayed at Purdue for graduate school because it was the best compromise for both of their professional interests. Rita Culross graduated from Purdue University with a BA in Elementary Education/Teaching the Gifted (1972), MSEd in Educational Psychology (1973), and PhD in Psychology (1976) and Claude Culross received a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry in 1979.

After graduate school, the Culross' relocated to Houston where Claude took a job as a research chemist with Exxon. Claude's job required that he transfer from assignment to assignment, making it difficult for Rita to find jobs. Rita Culross' accomplishments and career directions reflect her need to adapt to what various institutions wanted in an academic at that time. Sometimes Rita and Claude had to maintain a commuter marriage in order to both be employed.

Rita Culross held numerous professorial positions such as the Jo Ellen Levy Yates Endowed Professor of Gifted Education in the Department of Educational Theory, Policy and Practice at Louisiana State University and Associate and Assistant Professor of Psychology at University of Houston, among others. She has also served many administrative positions at LSU such as Director of Graduate Studies in the School of Education, Interim Director for the Women's and Gender Studies Program, and Associate Dean for the College of Education, to name a few. In the final years, her academic career came full circle back to teaching and research about gifted students.

Dr. Rita Culross is currently a Professor Emerita in the School of Education at Louisiana State University (LSU) where she's been employed as a professor since 1991. She has taught courses in creative behavior, the gifted, and women’s and gender studies and is an expert in issues for gifted and talented individuals and underachievers. She is also a licensed psychologist and nationally certified school psychologist. Culross has received numerous awards and funding and published many articles, books, and presented her research both nationally and internationally. One of the last articles she published actually includes information about the early life of one of her aunts, who was a very gifted person.

She has also served on local, university, and state boards, committees, and agencies such as the American Educational Research Association Special Interest Group on Giftedness and Talent as chair, the American Psychological Association Continuing Education Committee as a member, and the Louisiana State Board of Examiners of Psychologists as a member, vice chair, and chair. She has also served on various councils and boards at Purdue.


Culross, R. (2019). [Correspondence]. Rita Culross Collection File, Purdue Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries, West Lafayette, IN.


Culross, R. (2018). [Curriculum Vita]. Rita Culross papers, Purdue University Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries, West Lafayette, IN.


Culross, R. (2014). Message from Board Chair, Rita R. Culross, Ph.D. LSBEP Newsletter, 27(1). Retrieved from:


LSU Education Professor Psychologist Dr. Rita Culross Speaks In London on Talent Development in Olympic Athletes. (2012, August 1). The Psychology Times. Retrieved from:


Massé, M. (2008). Director's Notes. Women's and Gender Studies at LSU, 6(1). Retrived from:

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Rita Culross papers

 Unprocessed — Multiple Containers
Identifier: 20180625