Harley E. Flack
Richard H. Gallagher
Editor's Choice: Harley E. Flack
The University at Buffalo is the starting point for countless careers in dozens of professions. In recent years, three UB graduates -Arthur Levine, Harley E. Flack, Richard H. Gallagher- have crowned their career climbs with appointments as university presidents. Each speaks enthusiastically about his position, candidly about key issues facing higher education, and fondly about his alma mater, and how it helped shape his life.
(UBT Spring 1995)
Harley E. Flack, who earned his doctorate in counselor education from UB in 1971, assumed the presidency of Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio, on Feb. 1, 1994. Flack held a number of positions at UB from 1969 to 1974, including assistant dean in the School of Health Related Professions.
While studying in Buffalo, Flack worked under the auspices of Marceline E. Jaques, professor emeritus of counseling and educational psychology. He credits Jaques and other UB faculty members for "not just what I learned in class, but the opportunities they afforded me to get involved in administration and grant writing." Warren Perry, former dean of the UB School of Health Related Professions, served as Flack's mentor, providing additional insight and experience in the areas of funding and grant development. While serving as executive vice president and provost at Glassboro State College (now Rowan College) in New Jersey, Flack was instrumental in obtaining an historic endowment of $100 million for that institution.
Flack also served as founding dean of the College of Allied Health Sciences at Howard University from 1974 to 1987, and as vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty at the State University of New York College at Old Westbury before moving on to Rowan in 1989. He is former president of the National Society of Allied Health and has authored several books, including African-American Perspectives on Biomedical Ethics. In addition, he has composed more than 25 works for piano and voice.
There were two factors, Flack notes, that persuaded him to accept the presidency at WSU. "First of all, I'm back in my home state of Ohio," he says. He grew up in Zanesville, the son of a janitor and a teacher. The second factor that drew Flack to Wright State was "a really good fit between the needs of the university and what I brought to the table. "The greatest challenge is to balance the expectations with the production of high-quality graduates, and the influence of declining fiscal support. It's a three-legged stool. You try to balance quality, cost and access, especially as a public institution. If you change one of these factors, the others are thrown out of balance."
Flack's philosophy was exactly what the WSU Board of Trustees was looking for as it conducted last year's search for a new leader. As president of Wright State, Flack heads a student body of more than 17,000. He is the school's fourth president.