Edwin L. Herr: Preeminent Scholar, Leader, Advocate, and Mentor

By Engels, Dennis W. | Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD, January 2012 | Go to article overview

Edwin L. Herr: Preeminent Scholar, Leader, Advocate, and Mentor


Engels, Dennis W., Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD


Any effort to celebrate and profile Edwin L. Herr's development and accomplishments must begin with a disclaimer that acknowledges the impossibility of a brief profile adequately describing the breadth, scope, compass, integrity, insight, wisdom, practicality, pertinence, and prescience of his life, canon of works, career, leadership by example, and insightful advocacy for humanity and the counseling profession. One of the earlier pillars of the counseling profession who is not known for plaudits and who is a mentor to me praised Herr as the professional he saw as singularly pivotal in the vanguard of the counseling profession, counselor preparation, and counseling research in the 1970s and beyond: "He is a good man, Herr. I see him as very strong" (John W. M. Rothney, personal correspondence, 1984; see also Engels, 1975, 1986).

Herr is a very rare counseling scholar who also served as a leader in major aspects of key learned societies in counseling. This unique combination of leader and scholar necessitates a deviation from choosing either the naturalistic "great idea" or "great person" approach (Boring, 1950; Engels, 1980) to profiling such an enlightened leader. Rather, in this rare case of a scholar-leader, focus on only one approach would risk a false dichotomy. Herr's story requires attention to both ideas and persona. Thus, in this profile, I chronicle Herr's teaching, mentoring, and leadership as well as the genesis, evolution, and lasting legacy of published ideas and insights of this outstanding model of professionalism for purposes of archiving elements of his history and stimulating continuity of his ideas, achievements, dedication, and sense of character in action. This profile is designed to highlight and celebrate the evolution, scope, and implications of Herr's accomplishments and legacy by focusing on his leadership, published works, and other major achievements. To achieve these goals, I review his record, present an interview I conducted with Herr, and conclude with a tribute to him.

* Herr's Record

Herr's university biography indicates that he is distinguished professor emeritus of education (counselor education and counseling psychology) and associate dean emeritus, College of Education, Pennsylvania State University (PSU), with prior administrative appointments in research and technology. Herr served 24 years as head of what is now the Department of Counselor Education, Counseling Psychology and Rehabilitation Services Education. He also chaired several other departments and served as associate dean and interim dean of the College of Education. Herr earned his bachelor of science degree in business education from what is now Shippensburg University (then Shippensburg State College; 1955), his master of arts degree in psychological foundations, professional diploma in coordination of guidance services, and doctor of education in guidance, counseling, and student personnel administration from Teachers College, Columbia University (1959, 1961, and 1963, respectively); at Columbia, he was named an alumni fellow. His canon includes more than 33 books, numerous monographs, 300 refereed journal articles and technical reports, and 50 invited book chapters.

* Background and Development

Herr's work ethic is evident in his vita, publications, presentations, honors, and his tributes to others. His work history also affords some context for understanding his myriad accomplishments and distinctions. He served as a shipping department laborer in a shoe factory (part time and full time for 4 years); mail sorter for the U.S. Postal Service; dishwasher in a college dining hall; heavy construction laborer; jackhammer operator; fine grade assistant foreman; member of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) Hod Carriers Union; and a worker

in various part-time sales, clerical, and retailing jobs. His military experience encompassed approximately 14 years of service as a member of the Air National Guard, the U.

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