Paula A. Harbecke, PhD
Hall of Fame Class of 2008
Paula A. Harbecke, PhD, has served as a driving force in providing educational programs and services for the overseas U.S. Military community. After earning master’s degrees in accounting and in educational psychology and a doctorate in accounting, all from the University of Illinois, she became a faculty member successfully teaching servicemembers in the classroom; then, she rose in administration to become director of the largest U.S. government contract providing education programs for overseas military communities. Many schools provide continuing education degree programs to the military, but it was the high quality of UMUC’s programs that were repeatedly looked to as examples for educating servicemembers. Harbecke understands the value of quality assurance and quality compliance and has worked tirelessly to ensure that measures of excellence that document and improve quality are in place at every academic institution she has led.
Over a 20-year period, Harbecke held increasingly responsible positions at the University of Maryland University College (UMUC). Most notably, she served as vice president and director of UMUC programs, first in Asia and then in Europe. As director, she oversaw the largest academic institution providing postsecondary programs to servicemembers and their families overseas. This included pioneering UMUC’s program during the early days of online education to provide educational opportunities for students at remote sites and the development of the administrative support systems to serve students studying at a distance. The quality of UMUC programs was recognized through numerous Military Installation Voluntary Educations Review reports. Harbecke was key to winning contacts with the U.S. military so that UMUC could continue providing education programs in both Europe and Asia.
As academic consultant to the director, U.S. Army Education, Harbecke helped drive the team behind the cutting-edge, award-winning eArmyU Program, which saw expansion from three initial installations to 16 and grew the program for implementation Army-wide for all U.S. soldiers. The program offers soldiers a streamlined portal approach to a wide variety of online degrees and technical certificates. Harbecke worked closely with government officials and contract personnel to develop initial program policies and to design portal features.
Under her watch, the three academic institutions at which she has served underwent the self-study process with the university or college winning reaffirmation of accreditation each time. Subsequently, while serving as provost and chief operating officer at the School for International Training (SIT), Harbecke positioned SIT to attain a leadership role in study abroad and international exchange. More recently, she has helped lead Regis College through its transition from an all women’s school to a co-educational institution.
Harbecke has served as a role model to women in an overseas world dominated by men. Never compromising her standards, she excelled in finding balance among competing priorities without losing sight of the value of people. Her contributions in the areas of continuous quality improvement and university excellence distinguish her from other senior administrators who have worked with universities in the military education environment.
"Education's purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one."
- Malcolm Forbes