Popular and inspirational teacher Harvey Mandel dies

Flags will fly at half-mast as York University mourns the passing of Dr. Harvey Mandel (right), professor of psychology in the Faculty of Arts. Dr. Mandel died suddenly yesterday after suffering a heart attack while delivering one of his famous and inspirational lectures.

“We are in shock,” said David W. Reid, Chair of the Department of Psychology, Faculty of Arts. “He was here longer than most of us and his civility, sense of humour and attention to people personally touched so many. That is why we are going to miss him so deeply. He was one of the best teachers at York.” 

Dr. Mandel was a licensed clinical psychologist in Ontario. He received his BSc degree from McGill University, where he majored in psychology and physiology, and his MSc and PhD degrees in psychology from the Illinois Institute of Technology.

He was honoured with teacher of the year awards three times: in his department (1996), in the Faculty of Arts (1998) and across the University (2000). His undergraduate course in Abnormal Psychology was one of the most popular courses at York.

“He had a devotion and a humanity about him,” said Reid. “He really got through to people. On a personal note, I relied on his superb judgment. He was like a brother to me as an academic colleague.”

In 1986, Dr. Mandel founded the Institute on Achievement and Motivation at York University. At the institute, he conducted research on why some 20 per cent of high school and university students do not perform to their full potential, and how to help them achieve it. The research resulted in the development of a computerized psychological test that identifies different types of underachievers. Known as the Achievement Motivation Inventory, the test is now used in high schools and universities across North America.

Dr. Mandel also authored the best-selling book for parents of underachievers, Could Do Better: Why Children Underachieve and What to Do About It (1995, HarperCollins). He was a sought-after speaker at many school boards in Canada and the United States.

A service of remembrance is being planned; details will be forthcoming.