By Jordan Cochran
While Dr. Jacob Harney joined the cabinet just this year, his impact on Reinhardt University has stretched far and wide during his five years teaching Eagles and leading faculty.
Beginning in July, Interim Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs became Harney’s new title, but his work in the position truly began during the Spring semester when the COVID-19 pandemic shifted much of the University’s functionality. His responsibilities include the Registrar’s Office, the Academic Support Office, the Center for Student Success, Institutional Research, Career Services and the library. He also leads Student Affairs, Public Safety, academic deans and faculty.
The part of Harney’s position he enjoys the most is “solving problems and generating outcomes that are positive for the students, faculty and the University as a whole.”
“This job is never boring, it is extremely challenging during these difficulty times, but it is also an opportunity to contribute to the sustained life and future of Reinhardt University and higher education,” said Harney.
As an undergraduate animal science major, Harney realized his passion for learning about life, one that took him into the field of higher education.
“During a lecture on embryonic control of pregnancy establishment I became hooked on the extraordinary study of life,” Harney said. “I decided to pursue a graduate research assistantship and 35 years later, here I am.”
Harney has taught various biology courses at Reinhardt and served as the dean for the School of Mathematics & Sciences, as well as associate provost for two years, before taking on his current position and cabinet seat. He enjoys finding new ways to explain challenging topics to his students.
“I found a passion for trying to explain difficult concepts in ways that others can understand them. I enjoy the privilege of having the opportunity to turn those lights on in students’ heads. Learning and finding your passion is often scary and I try to make it manageable and desirable to pursue. There’s nothing stronger than an eager mind.”
In addition to contributing to several grants in recent years, including the nearly $1 million Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program grant from the National Science Foundation to create the STEM Teacher Education and Development program, Harney was recognized at the 2019 Homecoming football game with the Jason Gamel Blue and Gold Spirit Award, given to those who actively show their Reinhardt spirit around campus.
Harney’s nickname on campus is the “Honey Badger.” During his free time, he enjoys reading history, working outside in the yard, keeping up with science and health news and is writing an autobiography as his first book.