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Jon Harrington '77

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In Support of Academic Excellence
Adapted from the Summer 2011 E2E Newsletter

When it comes to philanthropy, Jon Harrington ’77 supports organizations and causes that mean something special to him. That includes Clarkson.

Over the years, Jon has dedicated his time to Clarkson as a member of the Clarkson Board of Trustees, Alumni Council, Business Leadership Council and Business Advisory Council. As an employee and eventually managing partner, at Accenture from 1977 until 2005, Jon stayed connected to his alma mater by recruiting and mentoring new Clarkson hires.

The crucial role that mentorship plays in the formation and development of talent was among the lessons that Jon learned at Clarkson. “What influenced me the most at Clarkson was the dedication of the faculty. Their focus was on more than just teaching a subject; they had a genuine interest and concern for their students,” he says. “Many became role models for me.”

In recognition of the mathematics program and the importance of strong, dedicated professors, Jon has established the W. Jon Harrington Professor of Mathematics via an outright gift to Clarkson in the form of a life insurance policy.  This professorship will support mathematics education across all disciplines. It is also intended to accelerate the excellence of a young mathematics professor and ensure that the best mathematics faculty are recruited and retained at the University.

Jon chose to name the professorship after his father, W. Jon Harrington. “I simply wanted to honor my dad. He always appreciated the education I received at Clarkson,” he explains. “As we set the professorship up, he got a great deal of joy knowing this would be one of his lasting legacies.”

Professor of Mathematics & Computer Science Erik Bollt, an internationally recognized expert on nonlinear dynamical stalls, was named the first W. Jon Harrington Professor of Mathematics in fall 2010. Bollt’s research has applications in engineering, biology, physiology, oceanography and physics. He teaches courses at various levels, ranging from freshman to advanced Ph.D. students and has published book chapters, over 100 peer-reviewed articles and has a full-length book in progress. “We are extremely grateful to the Harrington family for this opportunity to recognize an outstanding faculty member,” said Dean of the School of Arts & Sciences Peter Turner. “This professorship is also excellent recognition of the importance of a Clarkson education by a highly successful graduate like Jon Harrington.”

Since his retirement following his successful 28-year career at Accenture, Jon has stayed active by helping other nonprofit and charitable organizations and acting as a part-time venture partner for OmniCapital, a venture fund focusing on high potential IT and network start-ups. He and his wife, Janet, reside in Bernardsville, N.J.

Jon graduated from Clarkson with a dual degree in mathematics and industrial distribution in 1977. “I like to say that I got a degree in math because I enjoyed the subject and I got a degree in industrial distribution because I needed a job!” he jokes.