September 22, 2018 | ° F

Newest board member shares University roots

As an entering University student in the 1970s, alumnus and Trustee Gov. Gerald C. Harvey committed to wearing the "dink" — a red-and-blue bucket hat branding him as a first-year.

Despite the dink perched on his head, Harvey said he managed to make an impression on his future wife of 36 years, engineering student Keiko Takeuchi, at a school dance during his second day at the University.

"It sounds kind of corny in a way, but [Keiko is] the happiest ongoing theme in my life," Harvey said.

Harvey came back to the University to join first the Board of Trustees in 1998 and now the Board of Governors in July. The BOG approved Harvey this summer as trustee governor on their 11-person body.

He cites his passion for the University as one reason for coming back. Not only did he meet his wife there, but he also worked as editor-in-chief of The Daily Targum when student activism was at its peak in the 1970s.

"It was during the Vietnam War period, being on campus was a very interesting place to be, and Targum was right in the middle of things," Harvey said. "As you can tell, I never regretted it."

He added that as a result of student protests, the Targum sometimes published seven days a week rather than five. Also, editors proofread pages until 4 a.m. due to the letterpress system in place at the time, meaning the Targum was pieced together manually with hot lead letters until the newspaper modernized its printing techniques a few years later.

Although the gig kept him busy, he said he enjoyed it and gained new knowledge as a result. 

"I think I learned a lot in terms of real world issues in working at the paper," he said.

He added that the University helped him enter the Columbia University School of Law, where he graduated in 1975.

In addition to great memories at the University, Harvey said he admires the governing system of the school.

The system requires that the BOT elect five out of 11 members. The state governor appoints the remaining six.

"My personal opinion is that one of the reasons why Rutgers hasn't had the kinds of issues that [the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey] had is that the Board of Governors isn't all political appointees," Harvey said. "It's a hybrid that comes from two different sources."

The unique formula was created by a piece of legislation entitled the Act of 1956, which Harvey said he thinks is a "brilliant piece of legislation."

"It was designed to help assure the academic independence of the University, that the board would not be politicized," he said.

Due to his positive view on the University, Harvey also said he thinks he brings a strong passion of the University with him into BOG meetings. He also said he has a considerable knowledge of what the University's historic role has been in the state which might prove useful for BOG meetings. In addition, as the executive vice president of Breeze-Eastern Corporation, a rescue hoist and cargo hook manufacturer for aircraft, he said he has an understanding of the inner workings of management.

"I think I bring a strong knowledge of modern governance issues," he said.

Being on both of the University's important governance boards is not the only thing Harvey has to boast about. He was also vice chair of the alumni task force that recommended changes to the University two years ago — recommendations that have since changed the face of the school, including the merging of the school's four colleges.

As a student, Harvey said he recalls trying to get a thesis adviser from Douglass College in order to write his dissertation on medieval feudalism. Although he went to the same school in name, technically he was part of Rutgers College and needed to get special permission to do it.

"I hope these issues are much simpler now, if not eliminated," he said. "I think it's a much better school today than 40 years ago."

In addition to his seat on the task force, Harvey and Takeuchi created a scholarship designed for women in the School of Engineering.

"Both my wife and I had a very positive experience at Rutgers and were very aware that the cost of education keeps rising, and we would like to give back to the University something that would help current and future students," Harvey said.

In a press release, University President Richard L. McCormick lauded Harvey as the newest member of the BOG.

"We are pleased that Mr. Harvey's long-time relationship with Rutgers will continue as a member of the University's highest governing body," McCormick said. "We commend his selfless service to his alma mater."

Michelle Walbaum

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