GGC memorializes Dr. Lonnie Harvel with artwork, scholarship

Georgia Gwinnett College students today memorialized Dr. Lonnie Harvel with a unique piece of art that features symbols of how he touched many lives – thousands of fingerprints.

Georgia Gwinnett College students today memorialized Dr. Lonnie Harvel with a unique piece of art that features symbols of how he touched many lives – thousands of fingerprints.

Harvel, 47, passed away unexpectedly Nov. 4 in Athens, Georgia. As vice president of Educational Technology, he was one of the young college’s original four cabinet members and played a major role in the formulation and implementation of programs essential to the innovative mission of the college. He directed GGC’s centralized computing services and support, telecommunications, desktop computing, networking and academic/classroom/online technologies.

Several hundred people attended a large memorial service at GGC today, which featured comments by Harvel’s fellow employees as well as special guests.

“If you look at GGC’s organizational chart, you will see that Lonnie was our boss,” said Antonio Quesada, director of Information and System Security. “But that does not represent the entire dimension of what Lonnie meant to us ... the kind of relationship he strived to build with all of us. To Lonnie, this was more than just a workplace. To us, he was more than just a boss.”

Tributes such as this described Harvel as a multi-talented individual with a wide range of interests and skills that not only contributed heavily to the development of the college, but made him an inspiring and fun person to know. He was known for his enthusiasm and involvement in theater and the arts, theology, gaming, costume design and music, to name a few. References to his interests often brought laughter. Quesada recalled how Harvel described his vision of GGC as, “Starfleet Academy.”

“I suddenly realized the magnitude of such a statement,” he said. “Not only do we have a vice president who knows what Starfleet Academy is, we have a vice president who wants to build it.”

“Lonnie was the biggest advocate for faculty and students I have ever known,” said Lee Kurtz, assistant professor of biology. “He wanted the faculty to have the latest technologies to teach our students and he wanted our students to have the best technologies to facilitate learning.”

She noted that because of Harvel’s ability to think with both sides of his brain, he was not one to push technology at any cost when, “sometimes you just need imagination or a dry-erase marker.”

“Lonnie’s view of using technology to support active learning was a foundational facet of GGC’s educational philosophy,” President Daniel J. Kaufman said. “He didn’t believe in using a new technology just because it was new, or just because others might be using it. Lonnie believed in using technologies that enhance the educational experience, which is what this college is all about. GGC is Lonnie’s legacy.”

Kaufman shared some little-known facts about Harvel – that he helped design the college seal as well as its flag. Eddie Beauchamp, vice president for Facilities, presented Harvel’s family with a GGC flag that had been flown in his honor.

“Lonnie was an inspirational leader, a visionary who could see a future that the rest of us could not even imagine,” Kaufman said. “Lonnie not only saw it, he took us there.”

Jay Patel, president of the Student Government Association, invited audience members to participate in the students’ memorial art project by dipping their fingers in green or silver acrylic paint and leaving their mark on the 4’x5’ canvas. The finished piece will be permanently displayed on campus.

Kaufman announced that a scholarship fund is being established in Harvel’s name. The Lonnie Harvel Memorial Scholarship will initially support a student majoring, or intending to major, in information technology.

In closing, Kaufman said. “The monuments to Lonnie’s extraordinary contributions to the creation of Georgia Gwinnett College will not be marked by the beautiful buildings or the technologically advanced campus he created literally out of thin air,” but by, “the contributions of the thousands of students whose lives he touched, whether they knew him or not. Those contributions will be measured in decades of service to this community, this state and this nation by GGC graduates now and in the years to come.”

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