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Laughter, accolades highlight farewell party for Harry Daniels



More than 70 well-wishers packed the Norman Hall Terrace Room recently to say farewell to Harry Daniels, a popular counselor education professor whose engaging nature is rivaled only by his soft demeanor.

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Harry Daniels (center) enjoys a moment while being roasted during his retirement party held in the Terrace Room.

After devoting 49 years of his life to education – including 19 years as a teaching professor, department head and mentor to many doctoral students at the UF College of Education – Daniels is retiring.

“I’m humbled by the opportunity to work with students that look to me for guidance and direction, Daniels said before Thursday’s party, where he was lovingly “roasted” by several colleagues. “Some of them have been brilliant, but I’ve always believed that I’d know when it’s time to retire. Now that I’m 71 years old, that time is here.

“Counselor education is an intense profession, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it,” he added. “I’ve been blessed to be surrounded by great friends, a loving family and wonderful colleagues.”

Among those blessings is Paul Sindelar, who took a few jabs at Daniels’ golf game, recalling the different nicknames his longtime friend had earned during their Sunday outings at local courses.

“He was quite a slicer,” and more often than not, his ball would end up on the other side of a fence along the fairway,” Sindelar said as Daniels sat nearby, hiding his face in his hands. “We started calling him Chain Link.”

Daniels also bore the name “Hotel Harry Daniels” – a reference to the Doubletree Inn — after one of his shots ricocheted off two trees in a wooded area, where he apparently spent a great deal of time.

Aside from the ribbing, virtually everyone who spoke of Daniels described him as a man who has remained as dedicated to his family as he has his profession.

“Above all, he’s a devoted husband, a doting father and a completely enamored grandfather,” said Special Ed. Professor Holly Lane, referring to Diane, Daniels’ wife of 48 years; their two married daughters and a baby grandson.

After earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Northern Iowa, Daniels received his Ph.D. in counselor education from the University of Iowa in 1978. He taught history and other subjects in public schools for several years, and came to UF in 1996 to head the Counselor Education department.

After 11 years in that capacity, Daniels returned to the classroom, but went on to serve as the director of the COE’s School of Human Development and Organizational Studies in Education.

During his tenure as chair, UF’s Counselor Ed. program ranked among the top five programs nationally in its specialty every year in the U.S. News and World Report’s ‘s annual survey of America’s Best Graduate Schools. The program held the top spot in the 1997 rankings, and continues to receive high rankings.

But there’s no way Daniels’ unassuming nature allows him to take credit for the program’s success.

“I came in here with a great group of colleagues,” he said. “It’s not about me, it’s about our program.”

Perhaps Counselor Ed. program director Ellen Amatea said it best in a written farewell message about the soft-spoken Daniels.

“Your good humor, patience and willingness to listen to us will be missed,” Amatea wrote. “Not only have you been a very inspiring and encouraging teacher and leader, you have been a staunch advocate for the counseling profession and for our counselor preparation program.

“Thank you for all you have contributed to our Counselor Education program,” she added. “We will miss you.”

Contacts
Liaison: Larry Lansford, director, College of Education Office of News and Communications; llansford@coe.ufl.edu; phone 352-273-4137.
Writer: Stephen Kindland, College of Education Office of News and Communications; skindland@coe.ufl.edu; phone 352-273-3449.