Remembering Harry Levinson (1922-2012)

Harry LevinsonHarry Levinson, pioneering consulting psychologist, mentor to many SCP members, educator, prolific author and renown consultant, died  June 26, 2012, at the age of 90.

Harry authored more than a dozen books, many of them still in print, and a number of articles, particularly in the Harvard Business Review, and had a career-long involvement with professional psychology. He received many awards during his long and highly acclaimed professional career, including two from SCP:  the RHR International Award for Excellence in Consultation (1984) and the Society of Consulting Psychology Service Award (2004). He was also awarded a Gold Medal for Life Achievement in the Application of Psychology from the American Psychological Foundation (2000).

“Harry provided the intellectual capital that helped propel Consulting Psychology into relevance and importance,” said SCP Past-President Rodney Lowman, PhD. He consulted to some of the most important organizations of his day—including Fortune 500 companies and the U.S. State Department. But he was equally facile in working with the greenest graduate student and constantly contributed his time, talent and treasure to mentoring, teaching and writing.”

Dr. Levinson was more than an academic who studied consultation abstractly. He practiced it. As chairman emeritus and founder of The Levinson Institute, as head of the occupational mental health initiative at the Menninger Foundation, and as a consultant to consultants, his work reflected the experience of a well-seasoned practitioner with the wisdom of an academic

Born in Port Jervis, New York, Dr. Levinson received his BS degree and his MS degree from Emporia (Kansas) State University, which awarded him the university’s highest honor (Distinguished Alumni) in 1967. He received his training in clinical psychology in the Veterans Administration-Menninger Foundation University of Kansas program where he received his PhD. As coordinator of professional education at Topeka State Hospital from 1950 to 1953, he played a key role in the dramatic and widely acclaimed reformation of the Kansas state hospital system. In 1954 Dr. Levinson created, and for the next 14 years directed, the Division of Industrial Mental Health of The Menninger Foundation. During the academic year 1961–1962 he was a visiting professor at the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and in 1967 at the School of Business at the University of Kansas.

From 1968 to 1972, Dr. Levinson was a Thomas Henry Carroll-Ford Foundation distinguished visiting professor in the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration. He had been an adjunct professor in the Boston University School of Business Administration and in the Pace University Graduate School. Dr. Levinson was a Ford Foundation visiting professor at the H. C. Mathur Institute of Public Administration in Jaipur, India, in the summer of 1974. He was a visiting centennial professor at Texas A&M in April 1976, and in September 1979, conducted the international course on occupational social psychiatry for the Finnish Government Institute of Occupational Health, under the sponsorship of the Nordic Council of Ministers. He was also clinical professor of psychology emeritus in the Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Levinson was a consultant to and lecturer for many business, academic, and government organizations. His contributions to the industry and to the Society will live on through his many publications, endowed awards, and published articles, such as the following Spring 2003 interview that appeared in the Division 13 newsletter, The Consulting Psychologist.