Earl is a graduate of Western Michigan University, having earned a bachelor of arts degree in secondary education, English, and speech; a master of arts degree in speech education and teaching; and an Ed.D. in educational leadership. All of these were preceded by an associate's degree from Grand Rapids Junior College.
Earl joined the faculty at Western Michigan University in 1968 as an instructor in English and speech. In 1970, he became an instructor of communication. While teaching communication, his work emphasized teacher education, oral interpretation of literature, interpersonal communication, intercultural communication, and leadership.
From 1984 until 1988, Earl's administrative work included duties as director of the Black College Program, a program to recruit faculty at historically black colleges to come to Western to complete doctoral study. In 1986, he was appointed assistant dean in the College of Arts and Sciences, with responsibilities for budget, instructional equipment, faculty travel, space utilization, and other matters. In 1991, he was named the first director of the Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnic Relations. Later, he became director of the Black Americana Studies Program.
Earl's professional work has involved funding from the Michigan Department of Education and the Kalamazoo Consortium for Higher Education. His work has been presented to the Annual Student Retention Conference on Black Student Retention in Higher Education, the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education, the Speech Communication Association, the Michigan Speech Association, the Central States Speech Association, and to numerous local groups. He has published some of his work in The Journal of Negro Education , Communications Quarterly , and Communication Education . He also has written several chapters for edited books.
In 2000 Earl's professional career was cut short when he was stricken with a cerebral cavernous angioma that affected his speech. Earl retired from Western as an Associate Professor of Communication and Black Americana Studies.
He and Dianne reside in Kalamazoo for half of the year and Florida for the other half. Their son, Jason, lives near Grand Rapids, Michigan, and their daughter, Tiffany, lives in Cumming, Georgia. They have a granddaughter, Danyale Nabors-Washington and two grandsons, Jason and Josuah.