Danielle De Luna
Professor Emeritus Thomas Harvey promoted the merits of adversity during his last lecture Tuesday as a part of the La Verne Academy faculty lecture series.
Colleagues and former students filled the President’s Dining Room to listen to Harvey reflect on the transformative power of persevering through life’s challenges.
He fondly analogized facing adversity to the process of creating steel as he recollected summers spent working at a steel mill during his undergraduate studies at Princeton University.
“We are heated intensely by adversity, but by that adversity, we become steel,” Harvey said.
Watching friends, family members, colleagues and students encounter challenges ranging from a prep school hazing to a battle with cancer served as powerful inspiration for Harvey.
“It’s easy to be a winner when everything is going fine,” Harvey said. “You don’t know someone until they’ve been tested by adversity.”
Harvey said his friend’s experience taught him the keys to overcoming the impossible: having a sense of daily achievement, believing in something outside of yourself and going step by step.
In addition to anecdotes, Harvey shared some of his own struggles. He recalled the frustration and pain he felt 20 years ago as he recovered from a stroke.
The physical therapy process taught him the importance of having a sense of personal strength.
However, that would not prepare him for the death of his son, John Harvey, only two years later.
Harvey said he still carries the grief of this great loss.
Nevertheless, he still believes that facing grave hardships forge one’s character and authenticity.
Harvey’s wife, Bonita Drolet, said their child’s death could have easily drove them apart, but instead brought them closer together.
Harvey concluded his lecture by encouraging the audience to push forward despite the odds.
“We can all lead lives of quiet greatness, we can face adversity and inspire others,” Harvey said.
Afterward, many attendees shared memories of Harvey’s time at ULV.
Harvey retired from his position as professor of organizational leadership at the LaFetra College of Education in September.
However, he held many positions throughout his 42 years with the University.
“We met when he began as the director of Research, Evaluation and Quality Assurance,” Professor of Humanities Al Clark said. “Tom was always very careful with his words, always direct and to the point.”
Harvey later became the associate dean of education and then the dean of the school of organizational management before returning to his full-time teaching position.
Chief Student Affairs Officer Loretta Rahmani taught doctoral students alongside Harvey, who had been her dissertation chair years before.
“He really believed in the scholarly practitioner,” Rahmani said. “Tom’s greatest gift to his students is that he genuinely cared for their learning.”
In wake of his retirement, Harvey is now focusing on recovering from a back injury in time for a trip to Paris and Lisbon in October.
Danielle De Luna can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.