Dean of Students Joseph Abhold to retire this spring

Abhold’s impact includes helping Counseling Services and mentoring students


Photo by Matt Schrupp / SUBMITTED

Dean of Students Joseph Abhold started working at UW-Eau Claire in 2013. Since then, he said he’s seen the campus change in both physical and operational ways.

When Dean of Students Joseph Abhold arrived at UW-Eau Claire in 2013, the campus looked a bit different than it does now. Davies Student Center was newly constructed. Garfield Avenue was still a street. Ground hadn’t been broken for the new dorm on upper campus.

Now, after more than five years at the university, Abhold will retire this spring. He said he plans to open a private psychology practice in Eau Claire to serve the community’s youth and adults.

“I’ve really enjoyed my time at UW-Eau Claire,” Abhold said. “I’ve enjoyed the students I’ve worked with and the faculty and staff that I’ve had the chance to get to know. I think it’s a great place and a great university. I think there are really exciting things on the horizon.”

When Abhold earned his doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Arkansas, he said he didn’t know his exact career path.

An interview at Ball State University, Indiana, helped him decide. During the interview, Abhold said he realized all of the opportunities he would have to interact with students while working at a university. Excited with the prospect of change, he canceled his other interviews and accepted the job at Ball State.

Abhold’s background also includes working as the director of the Counseling Center at UW-Oshkosh. He received the UW System Board of Regents Academic Staff Award for Excellence in 2011.

The practice of helping others is what guided Abhold’s 26 years in higher education. He said he enjoys helping Student Senate and working with the directors of Student Health Services and Counseling Services. He has acted as a mentor to students who are experiencing mental or physical stressors in their lives.

“Some of the best, most enjoyable parts of my job are working closely with individual students,” Abhold said.

Branden Yates, a fourth-year business administration student and UW-Eau Claire study body president, said he recognizes Abhold’s work with Student Senate leaders.

“From the budget cuts of 2015 to the most recent restructuring with the administration,” Yates said, “Dean Abhold helped student leaders navigate all types of situations.”

Abhold said he believes he’s made a difference in Counseling Services by hiring Riley McGrath as director. This allowed counseling services to maximize how they’re serving students.

UW-Eau Claire’s also been through some bouts of adversity over the years, Abhold said. He said he’s seen the university work through budget cuts and other changes. Abhold said he proud of UW-Eau Claire’s work to be more inclusive, equitable and diverse.

Abhold will spend his retirement in Eau Claire and continue working. He said he plans to open his own private psychological practice, exploring a career path he didn’t take years ago.  

“What I’m really looking forward to is being able to spend the vast majority of my time doing what I think I’m best at and what I really enjoy,” Abhold said, “and that’s working one-on-one with people and helping them to be more productive and satisfied with their lives.”

Neupert can be reached at [email protected].