Paul Harmon

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Associate Professor Emeritus

Paul Harmon’s background as a project manager with the UNL Physical Plant included construction of UNL’s College of Law, Animal Sciences Complex and the East Campus Student Union; he also had experience as a field engineer for the Nebraska Department of Roads, plus degrees in civil engineering from UNL. In 1980 when the College of Engineering needed to fill a faculty position in the Construction Management area with an individual strong in construction industry experience, Lyle Young, former associate dean of the college, suggested Harmon “give it a try.”

It proved to be a good fit, and what Harmon initially thought would be a two or three year commitment turned into a 34-year span: teaching and mentoring students pursuing careers in the construction industry. With assistance and support from like-minded colleagues--including Roy Sneddon, Mike Riley and John Ballard--Harmon developed a strong commitment to students and their success in achieving a construction management degree.

During his time in front of the classroom, Harmon taught “nearly every course offered” by the program, now part of UNL’s Durham School of Architectural Engineering and Construction. Harmon said he tried to bring the “construction environment” into the classroom by calling upon his experiences in construction and using them as examples with students. Harmon estimates he has seen nearly 2,000 students graduate from the program, and he encouraged many alumni to return and share their expertise and experiences in the classroom. A 2014 UNL Outstanding Teacher Award for Harmon attests to these efforts.

Ryan Watzke, LEED AP, is a vice president with JE Dunn Construction in Omaha and enjoyed classes with Harmon: “Professor Paul Harmon was one of my favorite professors in Construction Management. His teaching always included practical construction management information and assignments preparing us for our careers in the construction industry. Professor Harmon sincerely cared for his students’ interests while maintaining high standards for his students completing work and managing their own successful careers at UNL.”

It made sense that Harmon advised both students and student organizations; that “close association with students made the 34 years pass quickly,” Harmon said. He was the program’s welcoming face to many entering freshmen at UNL’s New Student Enrollment and, beyond these commitments, he also served as interim department chair (twice), department chair and program coordinator for The Durham School.

If there was any one concept he’d hoped to instill in his students, it was that “construction management is a dynamic and rewarding career,” Harmon said. “Far from the image of the ‘tool belt and hard hat,’ it’s one that provides the education and knowledge for leadership and growth in construction.”