Glady Van Harpen
Throughout her career, Glady Van Harpen has focused on improving access to educational opportunities in the Upper Midwest and beyond. While she is currently retired, Glady is still pursuing these goals in various ways – including her involvement with the Bay College West Campus Foundation Board.
A Rhinelander, WI native, Glady earned her undergraduate degree from University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point in 1982. She initially graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in natural resource management and biology and intended to become a conservation officer. However, she soon chose to switch gears and went back to school for a year to earn her teaching license.
“I just decided while I was doing that that my passion was more in educating people rather than arresting them,” she said.
It did not take Glady long to get a foothold in the education field.
“One of my first educational opportunities was with the Wisconsin Department of Corrections, where I worked with adjudicated youth in an outward-bound program. That was really the trailhead for the rest of my career,” she said.
In 1986, Glady and her husband moved to Iron Mountain. There, she and a friend were hired by Community Schools to develop programming for the area’s first alternative high school, which still exists today.
“From there, I continued my education and got my master’s degree in educational administration at Northern Michigan University. Then, I was hired by Breitung Township Schools as the middle school principal in Kingsford,” she said.
Following her decade-long principalship at Kingsford, Glady took an educational consulting position with Union Pacific Railroad, where she worked with over 1,000 high school principals across the US. In 2010, Glady returned to school and got her doctorate in educational leadership through Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee. She spent four years commuting back and forth between Michigan and Wisconsin but eventually earned her PhD in 2015.
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Glady retired from the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh, where she was working with graduate and doctoral students as an assistant professor in educational leadership. During the pandemic, she was asked to teach online for Cardinal Stritch University in their doctoral program, which she did for a year.
At that point, she decided to retire completely. Despite this, she still has a close connection to one of her former employers.
“I continue to do educational research with a colleague from Cardinal Stritch University. We are actively involved in a group though the University Council of Educational Administration that works with the International School Leadership Development Network,” Glady said.
According to Glady, the network focuses on researching high-need schools around the world. As of July 2022, they were working with refugee and immigrant children at an elementary school in Oslo, Norway.
“You never know where you’re going to end up,” she said.
Glady also recently accepted a board member position on Bay College’s West Campus Foundation Board.
“I’ve known (Foundation Board member) Nancy Finch for a long time peripherally, and she mentioned there was an opening on the foundation board and said she thought I’d be great for it. I attended a gathering at Bay and decided this was something I really wanted to do – it fit with my passion for helping people, especially people with a nontraditional background, access educational opportunities in their communities,” she said.
Though she is still new to the board, she said she has high hopes for her future in this position.
“As a board member, I hope to be a good team player and assist the other board members and the college in promoting Bay College and furthering educational opportunities for people who might not normally have access to them,” Glady said.
Glady also expressed her appreciation for what Bay College has done in Iron Mountain since its West Campus was established in 2007.
“Since the college has been in our community, I’ve known several people who have been faculty members at the college. Furthermore, some of the students I’ve had years ago who went to alternative schools went on to Bay and got associate degrees or transferred to four-year programs. I’ve seen it change people’s lives, and it’s really been an asset for this community,” she said.