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Obituaries

Sidney Gael

Dr. Sidney Gael passed away February 25, 2012. Dr. Gael received his PhD in 1966 from the Ohio State University. He had a long career in I-O psychology. He spent 25 years working for AT&T in the Management and Non-Management Selection and Development Groups, working for Don Grant and Mary Tenopyr, where he specialized in job analysis and test development. He developed several innovative assessment procedures for service representatives. Recognized as an expert in both job analysis and test litigation, he provided many rich insights that supported the success of thousands of AT&T employees.  After the breakup of the Bell System in 1984, he continued these efforts while working for Bellcorp and also continued, following his retirement, to provide consulting services to them. Dr. Gael authored several books and publications in the area of job analysis including Development of Job Task Inventories and Their Use in Job Analysis Research and The Job Analysis Handbook for Business, Industry, and Government. He is survived by his wife Evelyn, and sons William, Michael, and Jonathan. 

William C. Howell (1932-2012)
Written by Wayne Camara

Bill Howell passed away at his home near Phoenix, Arizona on April 14, 2012 after a prolonged illness. Bill had several careers in psychology. Many colleagues may best remember him through his academic and research contributions while at The Ohio State University (1957–68) and Rice University (1968–1989), while others may know him best through either his role as chief research scientist at the U.S. Air Force Human Resources Laboratory (1989–1992) or as executive director of science at the American Psychological Association (APA, 1992–1998). In all roles and all organizations, Bill made a tremendous and lasting connection with people and sought to always leave things better than when he arrived.

Bill made many contributions through scholarship, academics, science policy, and service to professional psychology during his over 40 year professional career. His research in decision science and cognition stands out as having both sustained and significant impact on our understanding of the complexity of processes involved in human decision making. He published well over 50 papers in peer-reviewed journals and an equal number of technical reports for the Office of Naval Research and related outlets on topics such as human performance, engineering psychology, and memory. He coauthored or coedited a half dozen books, including three editions of Essentials in Industrial and Organizational Psychology with Robert Dipboye. Equally important were Bill’s contributions to building and sustaining the graduate programs at Rice University, where he served as chair of the department for 17 years, and his contributions to professional associations and science policy.

Prior to joining APA in 1992 as the executive director of science, he had served many leadership roles in APA including president of Division 21 (Applied Experimental and Engineering Psychology), APA Finance Committee, APA Investment Committee, Council of Representatives, Board of Professional Affairs and Committee on Research Support. Clearly, I knew Bill best from my 8-year tenure at APA’s Science director and had been fortunate to have more than occasional professional and personal contact with him each year since then.

Today it is easy to forget the divisive climate that existed between some elements of academic and clinical psychology within APA in the early 1990s. Academic and research members had just failed in an attempt to restructure APA, and many of these leaders appeared to give up on APA and instead formed the American Psychological Society. Bill’s two immediate predecessors had left under extremely controversial and unpleasant situations. The level of animosity and open hostility between leadership representing practice and academic interests in APA increased. As these events unfolded, morale among staff in the science directorate and APA members who cared deeply about science continued to worsen. It was not an easy situation to enter at that time.

Many of us believe Bill deserves the lion’s share of credit for building consensus and compromise among these and other diverse groups and constituencies. He was brilliant and tireless in finding ways to advance science and retain academic and research members. He sought out win–win situations and was responsible for convincing APA to adopt policies and programs that supported research interests even though governance was overwhelmingly represented by practice members. He conceived, developed, and sold a dual dues program and journals discount program to help retain scientists. He worked closely with other educational and scientific leaders in the behavioral science such as the chairs of graduate departments of psychology to retain membership and represent their interests and perspectives within APA. He traveled to countless universities to address faculty and graduate students about the unique and important role APA plays in science policy and scholarly publication. He was a brilliant scholar, skillful diplomat, exceptional manager, and underappreciated marketer for scientific psychology.

In the weeks after Bill’s passing I have spoken with a few former colleagues we worked with at APA. Much of what we remember about Bill is his self-deprecation, his dry sense of humor (who could forget how he said “dumb as dirt”?), his deep affection for those around him, and his absolute brilliance. My personal memories are of more casual times we spent together with staff and a handful of exceptional and loyal APA members at conventions, at his home, or late in the day in the halls of APA. In writing this statement I reviewed the letters of support that resulted in his receipt of the 2012 Raymond Fowler Award for Outstanding Contributions to APA. This award will be given posthumously at the APA Convention this summer. I am sure he would have been truly honored and grateful, but even more embarrassed by this recognition. Several nominators described Bill’s deep integrity, and one noted how he refused to list grants or projects on his resumé unless he had a major role in their development. A former colleague at APA wrote in their nomination letter that “Bill is just a wonderful person in every way; he is deeply dedicated to the advancement and preservation of APA and psychology and is one of the best managers that I have ever had the pleasure of working with…he is kind, thoughtful, and did whatever it took to get the mission accomplished even if it was at his own personal expense.”

Bill truly cared about the personal and professional lives of others. He provided mentorship and advice to me on numerous occasions both while at APA and after I departed. I recall one afternoon he dropped by my office to discuss what I wanted to be doing in 5 years from now. Hearing my answer, he counseled me to consider leaving APA and return to more applied research work. That resulted in my current position at the College Board. He appointed me to editorial roles, he nominated me for scientific committees and honors (e.g., awards, fellowship), and I recall him calling to ask if my career would be enhanced by an appointment as an associate editor to a top-tier journal with the idea that I might take on editorship when he stepped down. Bill was generally calm and steady in dealing with very heated and controversial issues, but at times he would just “lose it.” He told me once that to be successful in a senior management role in an organization such as APA you had to be willing to lose your job for principle. At that time I had two very young children and a large mortgage. But on at least two occasions he offered to resign if the senior leadership was unwilling to support key scientific positions that were central to our goals of retaining and representing scientific psychology. He ensured that I didn’t have to lead those fights but also was quick to remind me that you don’t play that card too often.

I was surprised when Bill told me he was retiring and moving to Gold Canyon, Arizona in 1998. Bill loved running, hiking, and especially golf. I have recently learned he was also a pretty good gardener. He explained that in Arizona he could pursue these hobbies year round and still be located next to a large airport so he could frequently see his four children and eight grandchildren. He was free to share opinions about politics, books, what car I should purchase, and how to maintain outdoor furniture (I still own the same patio furniture he recommended I purchase back in 1994, and it looks brand new). He was active professionally after 1998. He continued to serve as editor of Human Factors and was associate editor of the American Psychologist. He served on the Board of Trustees for the American Psychological Foundation and was chair of APA’s Board of Convention Affairs, leading a controversial and difficult fight to gain major changes in the APA Convention. The reduced length, compressed program, and common themes are initiatives he felt were required to sustain the convention for another decade, and those changes are still in effect today.

Often highly accomplished scientists and leaders are remembered for their professional accomplishments, contributions to the literature, or distinguished positions they held. Anyone who worked closely with Bill will remember his warmth, caring, wit, and integrity. He made a personal connection with students, colleagues, and fellow psychologists—he was a very special individual.

Bill Howell is survived by his wife, Patricia Lilley Howell; two daughters and their husbands, Karen and Ray Toomey (Colorado Springs), and Carol and Bill Sevier (Belgium); elder son and wife, Stephen and Toni Howell (Arlington, VA); and his younger son, Stuart Howell (Montana). He also leaves behind eight grandchildren and one sister, Elizabeth Chapman (Norway).

Two memorial funds have been established in Dr. Howell’s name:

  • Rice University—Professor William C. Howell Endowed Fund in Psychology; Giving.Rice.edu. Contact: Julie Platek, jplatek@rice.edu; http://psychology.rice.edu/Content.aspx?id=243.
  • American Psychological Foundation—The William C. Howell Scholarship; www.APA.org/APF. Contact: Kimberly Rowsome, APF Sr. Development Officer (202) 336-5622.