Written by Rex Stockton, chancellor’s professor at Indiana University
Robert L. “Bob” Gibson, a pioneer counselor educator, passed away July 23, 2015 at age 95 after a long and illustrious career. Bob served as professor and chairman of the Department of Counseling and Counselor Education at the Indiana University School of Education from 1969 to 1982. His 11 textbooks and extensive periodical publications have influenced the field of counseling throughout the world. His Introduction to Counseling and Guidance textbook, co-authored by his longtime colleague, Marianne H. Mitchell, (now in its 7th edition) was adopted by over 200 institutions in this country alone. Many of his textbooks have been translated into foreign languages, including Chinese. He also directed 15 funded research projects.
A native of West Virginia, Robert Gibson pioneered many firsts during the course of his professional life. He established the first counseling and guidance program in Morgantown High School in Morgantown, West Virginia. He served as the director of guidance and instructor in history from 1946 to 1949 at Morgantown High School. He established the first counseling and guidance program at the West Virginia Institute of Technology (Montgomery, West Virginia) in 1951 and also served as its director of guidance and associate professor from 1950 to 1957. While there, he formed the first West Virginia Guidance Association and served as its first president in 1953. After completing his doctoral degree in 1956, Bob accepted a position at the University of Toledo as professor of education and assistant dean of the School of Education. He established the Department of Counselor Education and initiated the first doctoral degree program at the University of Toledo. He successfully competed for federal research training grants (a first for that institution at that time in education). He won a grant from the Ford Foundation to study early school leavers, as well as one from the Office of Education to investigate the comparative academic achievements of elementary school youth in the United Kingdom and the United States. During his tenure at Toledo, Bob successfully competed for funds to conduct National Defense Education Act training institutes for six successive years, thereby establishing the Department of Counselor Education as one of the most respected programs at the time in the country (1957-1965).
Dr. Gibson was invited to Indiana University in 1965 as a full professor to add strength to the program. He initiated Indiana University’s Scotland Program in 1970 and it’s Bermuda Program in 1972, both of which functioned until 2000. From 1965 to 1980, he directed numerous federally funded grants studying cross-cultural aspects of education and the achievement of secondary-school students.
In addition to his academic program leadership, Bob served as president of professional associations in three states (West Virginia, Ohio and Indiana). Additionally, he served as treasurer of the Association of Counselor Education and Supervision and chaired the North Central Association of Secondary Schools and Colleges’ Committee on Standards and Research in Guidance for many years.
Dr. Gibson served as a consultant to numerous governmental agencies, both in the U.S. and abroad, including the Bermuda Ministry of Education; the Bermuda Ministry of Health and Social Science; the Bermuda College; The Scottish Ministry of Education and the Moray House College of Education at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. He retired from Indiana University as professor emeritus in 1990, but continued to do consulting work until 2010.
Dr. Gibson’s excellent teaching skills and administrative acumen were highly respected by both his students and colleagues. His students have gone on to distinguished careers in higher education at various institutions in the United States and foreign countries. His willingness to devote extra time to students needing extra help endeared him to his students, many of whom continued to visit him on campus and in Bloomington.
Among his colleagues, Bob was known for his quick wit, high energy and strong sense of loyalty. He was also recognized as an avid sports fan, particularly of IU basketball and football (He was a student-athlete himself, participating in both baseball and track).
Although he almost never spoke of it, in June 1941, Dr. Gibson was called into service and assigned to the U.S. Army’s First Armored Division at Fort Knox, Kentucky. In March 1942, the division was ordered to Northern Ireland and in November 1942, participated in the D-Day Invasion of North Africa. Robert served in the Army until the termination of World War II in June 1945. During his service he earned four Bronze Stars and three Purple Hearts and was discharged with the rank of captain.
Dr. Gibson’s wife, Juanita Jenkins, whom he married in 1946, preceded him in death. He is survived by three children, Katherene Gibson, Paul Lewis Gibson and Nancy Lee Wallace; four grandchildren, six great-grandchildren and six nephews and a host of former students and colleagues.
A fund that enables Indiana University counseling master’s students to travel to and present at conferences has been established in Gibson’s name at IU. To donate, send a check payable to the IU Foundation (write “Robert L. Gibson Counseling and Educational Psychology Student Travel Fund” on the memo line) to:
Indiana University Foundation
PO Box 500
Bloomington, IN 47402-0500
(Photo courtesy of Indiana University)