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Edward W. Harvey

Alumni Spotlight—Edward Harvey

Alumni of the College of Applied Health Sciences have myriad career options thanks to the tremendous diversity of programs. We periodically will put the spotlight on an alum to find out what they're doing now, what experiences they had and what AHS means to them. This week, we talk to Edward W. Harvey, who used his RST experience as a springboard to working for 38 years in park district leadership.

Q: Why did you pick RST?

A: I actually entered the University in the College of Commerce (now Gies College of Business). I had been working for the Urbana Park District on a seasonal and part-time basis, doing park maintenance and working in sports and recreation programs. I really enjoyed the work but didn’t realize it was a career. When Robin Hall started at the Urbana Park District, he had a profound influence on me taking another look at my career plans. He arranged for me to talk to Chuck Pezoldt, who was on the faculty at that time. Chuck’s genuine enthusiasm for and boots-on-the-ground experience in the parks and recreation profession proved too persuasive to resist, and I transferred into the then-Department of Recreation and Park Administration.

Q: Which professors had the most impact on you?

A: As mentioned, Chuck Pezoldt’s background in Illinois Parks and Recreation on a local level fit right in with what I was interested in doing when I graduated. Jim Brademas was the Director of (Office of Recreation and Park Resources) ORPR at that time. He also had a wealth of practicable experience as a parks and recreation administrator and also as a consultant. Bob Espeseth didn’t come to the university until I was in graduate school but his background in Wisconsin State Parks and other park systems was very valuable to my education. Bob and I have continued a great relationship for nearly fifty years.

Q: What course did you most enjoy?

A: Chuck Pezoldt taught the undergraduate course in parks and recreation administration, which I found extremely interesting as well as directly related to my background. He gave a quiz on the Illinois Park District Code every class. Great way to learn the code!

Q: Did you enter AHS knowing your career path, or did AHS help you decide?

A: I had already tried two years in the College of Business taking accounting, economics and finance courses. I liked it a learned a lot but part of what I learned was that I probably didn’t want to do it for a profession. Once I learned that parks and recreation was a career choice, it sounded perfect for me.

Q: Did your AHS experience lead to your current job?

A: I’m retired now but yes, it did lead to a career of 38 years in three park districts: Urbana, Champaign and Northbrook. In retirement, one of my favorite activities is bicycle riding. I often ride through the local Champaign and Urbana Parks and see how the trees I planted 50 years ago are doing. It’s more than a career when you do it for a lifetime.

Q: What was your favorite on-campus experience?

A: I played in the Marching Illini for three seasons, carrying a sousaphone. I also played tuba in the Concert Band under Mark Hindsley for three years and under Harry Begian for one year. Those experiences provided a lifetime of memories.

Q: What does AHS mean to you?

A: I have always felt the college and department provided me with what I needed to have a successful career. At the time I was in school, I vowed that if I ever had the opportunity, I would try to help future students get the same opportunity. For that reason, my wife and myself have established a scholarship fund for undergraduate Recreation, Sport and Tourism students named for my late parents. It makes me feel good that I have been able to provided a small level of assistance for these future leaders in our profession.

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