Professor Mordecai Nisan was born in Tel Aviv in 1934. In 1959 he began studies in the departments of philosophy, psychology, and Hebrew literature at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In 1965 he received a master's degree in psychology. He then began doctoral studies at the University of Chicago, where he received a doctorate in developmental psychology in 1969.
Professor Nisan was the head of the school of education at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and was its dean from 1989–1992. He also served on Israel’s Council for Higher Education, chaired the academic committee of the Israeli Center for the Advancement of Education and of the Melton Centre for Jewish Education, and served on many public commissions and on the editorial boards of numerous scientific journals.Professor Nisan conducted research at the universities of Harvard, Oxford, Stanford, and Melbourne, at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, at the Max Planck Institute for Psychological Research in Munich, and at the Carnegie Institution in Palo Alto.
Professor Nisan was one of the founders and pillars of the Mandel Leadership Institute in Jerusalem. Among other roles, he was one of the founders of the Mandel Jerusalem Fellows Program, served as director of the Mandel School for Educational Leadership, was the academic director of the Mandel Leadership Institute and the Mandel Foundation–Israel, and was a member of key committees of both institutions. He founded and led the Mandel Program for Youth Leadership, the Mandel IDF Educational Leadership Program, the Mandel Program for Young Researchers, and the Mandel Scholars in Education Program.
Professor Nisan authored numerous articles and book chapters in the literature of developmental psychology and education. His main areas of research were moral development and behavior and human motivation. His last book, on moral identity and limited morality, is now in press.
Mordecai Nisan was laid to rest on Friday, February 17, 2017. He is survived by his wife and four children. May his memory be a blessing.