Harold Abel was born in New York City on July 31, 1926. He earned an A.B. in Liberal Arts (Psychology) (1949), a M.A. in Special Education (1951), and a Ph.D. in Psychology (1958) from Syracuse University.
Abel taught the mentally challenged in New York (State), 1950-1952. He worked as an Assistant Instructor in Elementary Education, 1952-1954, and in Psychology, 1954-1956, at Syracuse University. Abel served as the Director of the Child Development Laboratory and Associate Professor of Psychology and Home Economics at the University of Nebraska, 1956-1964. From 1963 to 1965, Abel served as the Chairman and Professor at the Dept. of Human Development at the University of Nebraska. During the summer of 1964, Abel was a Visiting Professor of Psychology and Education at Adelphi University. From 1965 to 1968, he served as the Director of the Division of Psycho-Educational Studies and a Professor of Education at the University of Oregon. Abel served as the Associate Dean and Professor Educational Psychology in the College of Education, at the University of Oregon, 1968-1970. From 1970 to 1975, Able served as president of Castleton State College in Vermont.
On September 23, 1975 Abel became the eighth president of Central Michigan University (CMU), following President William Boyd’s resignation. President Abel established general educational requirements for all students and led the university through a period of lean budget years and uncertain funding for higher education. CMU gained a reputation during President Abel’s tenure for outstanding financial management and success at maintaining steady enrollment during a period of national decline. CMU also became a state leader in energy conservation and increased research opportunities for faculty.
President Abel resigned in 1985. He later assumed the presidency of Walden University Institute for Advanced Studies before returning to CMU as a member of the psychology faculty. In July 1993, he assumed the presidency of the Graduate School of America in Minneapolis, later Capella University.
Active in a number of professional organizations, President Abel served as chair of the Public Advisory Board of the University of Michigan Hospitals. He also served on the Board of Directors of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities and was a member of the State of Michigan’s Statewide Health Coordinating Council.
In 1979, President Abel received an honorary Litt.D. degree from Hanyang University (Seoul, Korea).
President Abel and his wife, Iris, had two sons, Lawrence (1956-) and Matthew (1958-). Harold Abel died on July 9, 2002 at age 75. (This information is from the collection.)