Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Many at JU Want Harlow for President

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Many at JU Want Harlow for President

Article excerpt

When David L. Harlow joined Jacksonville University as its interim president in June, one of his priorities was to help the school find a permanent leader.

A rising number of university officials and other observers say it's looking like the retired Navy rear admiral is a perfect fit for the job.

Harlow came to JU from Sarasota, where he had moved after retiring from a Tennessee college. Harlow originally expected to return to the Gulf Coast by New Year's, but his stay was extended indefinitely as JU sought a replacement for Paul S. Tipton, who resigned as president in May.

Harlow is credited with improving campus morale and bolstering efforts at student recruitment and retention. As a search narrowed from 57 candidates to four finalists and was subsequently suspended in October, the buzz around campus became a widespread desire for Harlow to stick around.

"Everyone recognizes that it's up to the Board of Trustees, but I think there is still a great deal of support for the Harlow solution," said Eric Thomas, chairman of social sciences. "In other words, we ran a search, had over 50 in the pool and nobody really seemed to impress people as much as Harlow had."

JU is a private school and its search was closed to the public. Harlow has not indicated publicly if he would consider taking the job and he declined to comment, instead issuing a statement that said granting an interview would send the wrong message to trustees as they decide on a president.

The 28-member board is scheduled to meet early next month to settle JU's leadership situation. In the interim, Harlow will continue to do what he's done since June 1: Keep the budget in check, build bridges with the community and help JU prepare long-range plans for future construction and improvements to the curriculum.

This is Harlow's second stint on the First Coast; his first came during his 36-year Navy career. He came to Jacksonville in 1979 to command the city's naval installations. During three years, he was lauded for strengthening Navy ties to the community, particularly with the Boy Scouts, whom he invited by the thousands to camp out at Jacksonville Naval Air Station.

As a commanding officer, he handled many responsibilities similar to those of a college president. He gave dozens of speeches and shook countless hands. He cautioned his sailors about the dangers of binge drinking. He heard complaints about low pay and lobbied lawmakers for better resources.

When a frustrated master chief came to him, worried that he and other sailors could do nothing to correct problems, Harlow named him command master chief. In that role, George Miller served as a spokesman for local sailors.

Miller, then a 25-year-veteran of the Navy, spoke highly of Harlow's leadership.

"I think Jacksonville is seven months ahead of the rest of the Navy," he said in a newspaper article in 1981.

Later that year, Harlow left for an assignment in Washington, but not before forging an important friendship with Fran Kinne, who was president of Jacksonville University.

Kinne had encouraged her friend to enter the education arena when he decided to leave the Navy, even offering him the job as JU's athletic director. He turned it down, more interested in an unavailable basketball coaching job. Harlow, who grew up in New York City, spent a year playing basketball at hometown Manhattan College.

"When he was on active duty, I kept telling him he needed to go into education," said Kinne, now a JU trustee. "One of the things I discovered, people in the military have such a broad base of experience in leadership, budgeting, they're masters of communicating."

Harlow could not be convinced to come to JU, so it was off to Washington, where he met Peggy, his wife. But when it came to work, the five years there just didn't match up to other assignments, he told the Jacksonville Journal in 1988, the year he retired from the Navy. …

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