Harper College

Harper College, The First 50 Years

William Rainey Harper College: 1967–2017


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How did open farmland and horse stables in Palatine, Illinois, give rise to a vast brick-and-glass complex serving some 35,000 students annually? Retired Harper Professor Trygve Thoreson captures our proud past in Harper College, The First 50 Years. The past five decades span the terms of five presidents — from mover and shaker Robert Lahti; to arm-around-the-shoulders humanist James McGrath; to bridge-builder and technology promoter Paul Thompson; to change agent Robert Breuder; and finally, to the College’s current advocate for student success, Kenneth Ender. Harper board members, administrators, faculty, staff and students recall breakthrough programs and notable accomplishments, memorable encounters, leaps forward and steps backward, debates, delights and debacles – from the earliest days to the promise of our strong future. It’s all in the context of a place where, as President Thompson once remarked, “Yes, excellence is still the goal.”

About the Author

Trygve Thoreson enjoyed a 30-year career teaching English and humanities in the Division of Liberal Arts at William Rainey Harper College. From 1996 to 2003, he served as coordinator of the Honors Program at the college. Professor Thoreson retired in 2014.

Last Updated: 12/14/23