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updated: 2/4/2014 7:25 PM

Harper College remembers administrator

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  • Harper College is remembering Donn Stansbury, one of the first employees ever hired by the school. The longtime Arlington Heights resident served as the first admissions director, and later, as vice president of student affairs.

      Harper College is remembering Donn Stansbury, one of the first employees ever hired by the school. The longtime Arlington Heights resident served as the first admissions director, and later, as vice president of student affairs.
    Courtesy of Steve Catlin

  • Former colleagues are remembering Donn Stansbury's dedication to Harper College during a time of rapid growth. "He wasn't afraid to try new things," Bonnie Henry said.

      Former colleagues are remembering Donn Stansbury's dedication to Harper College during a time of rapid growth. "He wasn't afraid to try new things," Bonnie Henry said.
    Courtesy of Harper College

 
 

Donn Stansbury wasn't afraid of risks.

He had a steady job as an administrator in Northwest Suburban High School District 214 when he set his sights on a school without students.

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It was 1966, and Harper College had not yet opened its doors. The school found its president and then Stansbury -- considered one of the first employees ever hired.

Despite the uncertainty of a fledging community college, Stansbury was a calm visionary who steered the campus through rapid growth, Harper co-workers say.

"He was just a forward-looking person," said Joann Powell, a former dean of student development.

Stansbury died Jan. 27 in his Huntley home. He was 86.

The Iowa-born Stansbury emerged as a top official who embraced new technology and worked to expand programs for student athletes and those with special needs.

"He wasn't afraid to try new things," said Bonnie Henry, former vice president of human resources.

In the early 1970s, Harper became one of the first schools in the country to use online registration thanks in large part to Stansbury, the college's first admissions director.

Stansbury worked with IBM to navigate computers that would make signing up for courses more convenient for students.

In 1980, Stansbury ascended to vice president of student affairs, a role that had him overseeing extracurriculars, counseling and other services.

Besides working long hours in the office, he joined state and national professional organizations for college registrars.

He also mentored Harper employees like Steve Catlin, who held his old post in the admission department.

"His style of management was not micromanagement," Catlin said. "He was encouraging of his employees. His style motivated people."

After Stansbury retired in 1986, the avid fisherman and his wife, Delores, traveled across Europe. But he found time to make it back to campus and take in all the progress with a group of Harper retirees.

"He was excited to see it continue to grow," Powell said.

Services were held. Instead of flowers, donations may be made to St. Mary Catholic Church, 10307 Dundee Road, Huntley, or the American Cancer Society.

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