Dr. Harry Heinemann
December 12, 1933 - April 20, 2022
The Legacy Group
Back Row (left to right): Sam Sovilla, Bruce Lumsden, Jim Varty
Front Row: Chris Pratt, Jim Wilson, and Harry Heinemann
It is with sadness that we share the passing of a true “pioneer” and a giant in the field of cooperative education, Dr Harry Heinemann. While Professor and Dean of Cooperative Education at LaGuardia Community College, Harry developed and implemented an exemplary and academically integrated model of Cooperative Education for all its students. But Harry’s contributions to co-op as a strategy and practice extended nationally and internationally.
Upon his passing Chris Pratt and Jim Varty reached out to several of Harry’s colleagues and good friends asking them to share their recollections of Harry’s leadership in the cooperative education movement and their friendship with him.
- Jim Varty, formerly Dean of Corporate Services and Dean of Students at Macomb Community College, shared that Harry’s contributions to co-op as a strategy and practice extended both nationally and internationally. He was an active mentor for many professionals in the field and a skilled consultant. He was a frequent contributor to the Journal of Cooperative Education and for many years served on its editorial board. For many years he served on the Cooperative Education Association (CEA) Board as its vice president for finance and brought financial stability to the organization. He was also a welcomed presenter at its conferences. Harry received the Herman Schneider Award from CEA and was the first community college person to be inducted into the University of Cincinnati Cooperative Education Hall of Honor in 2009.
Harry was an early and enthusiastic supporter of the World Association for Cooperative Education. At the request of the Swedish Employers Confederation, he led an initiative for the development and integration of cooperative education programs in Swedish Colleges and Universities.
Harry participated in the Legacy Group pictured above dedicated to the preservation of the history of cooperative education, beloved Single Malt Whisky experts, one and all.
- Chris Pratt, formerly Professor, Director and Dean at Seton Hall and MIT, and “Baby Grey” member of the Legacy Group, recalls vividly, how much Harry loved his wife, Susan, his son, Richard, his family, and how much he contributed to the lives of so many, friends, colleagues, students and to the city he loved.
What a collection of colleagues and good friends Harry had including, among many others, members of the Legacy group and those who recall Harry in this article, Wanda Bolton, Sheri Dressler, Freyda Lazarus, Helen Olorosa, Dawn Pettit, Dick Pullin, Pat Rowe, and Tobie van der Vorm.
Chris further comments that even more than tennis and skiing, fine food and Single Malt Whisky, politics and the bond of shared friendship, Harry appreciated higher education, co-op and the search for truth and justice.
So many professional educators benefited from Harry’s advocacy for Title VIII federal funding for co-op, his role with CEA and his role in multiple consulting and evaluation team visits. So many co-op students benefited from his work. And their experiences as students led to enriching careers enabling them to become productive contributors to their families, communities, and nation.
Chris also fondly recalls all that Harry did for him personally in his career, whether it was advice, teaching, sharing, including “this kid”. Harry was always generous to a fault if he was anything.
He now pictures him deep in intellectual conversation with his colleagues and friends who went before him, preparing to advise the Lord of what the world so sorely needs, and offering his help.
- Sam Sovilla, alleged Grandson of Herman Schneider, Director and Professor Emeritus and Associate Provost at the University of Cincinnati (the baptismal font of Co-op) and lifetime Hero of Mount Herman, remembers Harry as very intelligent and articulate. In annual workshops Harry was never outdone in discussions about contentious issues. His logical approach and persuasive manner were respected by all, even those who disagreed with his positions.
When Harry became Vice President for Finance for CEA the serious business side of him came forward. (Harry had a doctorate in Business). It had long been the CEA practice to incur debt over the Association’s year on the assumption that proceeds from Conference revenues would, each year, enable paying off any accrued debts. For most years, especially due to significant increases in conference attendance due to travel funds increasingly available under federal grants, this was a workable practice. Harry saw this as an inappropriate finance practice for an organization and converted the financial structure to be more pay as you go.
Harry had a delightful sense of humor which wasn’t always apparent to those who didn’t know him well. His humor was fresh due to his quick wit and seeing humor in almost anything.
Sam recalls in the early 1980s Harry, Sam and Paul Pratt of Northeastern University were on the CEA Board. Roughly a month before the Conference Harry found out that Paul was secretly planning a number on Sam during the Banquet. Paul intended to present him with a plaque making light of his hair, or lack thereof. Harry suggested that the two of them one up Paul. Harry prepared a hilarious presentation about how bald people made better co-op directors than people with full heads of hair. Sam developed a military recruitment like poster, with their photos on it, and with the caption “Northeastern is seeking a few good people for their Co-op Program”. Harry spoke and Sam presented the poster to Paul before his turn to speak. Paul was like a deer looking into headlights.
- Helen Olorosa, Assistant Dean and Director of the Career Engineering Career Engineering Development at Northwestern University shares both professional and personal perspectives about Harry. She worked very closely with Harry in the late 1980’s on a pilot internet platform for the co-op community called CECONET. CECONET stood for the Cooperative Education Communications Network. Harry headed up the effort to create, fund and market CECONET. He was assisted by Joel Jeter. I represented CEA. Together, we visited schools and spoke before association boards to get support and involvement. CECONET was intended to serve as an electronic bulletin board for the co-op community in the days before the “worldwide web”. In many ways, CECONET was ahead of its time, and in other ways it came a bit too late to face the onslaught of other communications tools. Harry was just the kind of visionary who could see the potential for our community and was a tireless advocate for this type of innovation. While CECONET never reached its potential, the conversations that Harry generated led to broad acceptance in our community for all the tools that technology had to offer – then and now.
Helen brought her young (6 year old) son to a CEA board meeting in Orlando so he could see what mom was doing on all of her travel. Chris spent that day at a special program for kids at the hotel but joined us grown-ups for dinner. “Harry made it his mission to entertain Chris and coach him on how to persuade me to buy shrimp and baby lamb chops for our dinners at home.“ Helen reports that “Chris remembers Harry, the shrimp and the baby lamb chops to this day; he doesn’t remember the hotel’s “day camp” at all.”
- Bruce Lumsden, formerly Director of Cooperative Education and Career Services at the University of Waterloo, and a member of the Legacy Group recalls that “Harry was a strength in our group who brought perspective, made sage observations, and kept our discussions on track. He was a good listener, shared his experience, and good common sense. His legacy will be with us forever. He will be missed.”
- Dick Pullin, retired faculty member from the University of Waterloo wrote “So sorry to hear of Harry’s passing. Knowing he was struggling, now resting in peace. He was a rock. Could always be counted on for sage advice in delivering the best form of education we all shared.”
- Tobie van der Vorm, formerly Executive Director of the Career Center at the American University and CEA President extraordinaire, remembers (fondly) about Harry, is that he liked to give her a hard time whenever possible. She notes that CEA really benefited from his financial savvy and insistence on tending to the details in turning things around financially. Harry was also a leader for the World Assembly and a frequent presenter at world conferences. Tobie recalls as well that Harry was “an important philosophic leader for co-op and, therefore, sometimes a great spar for our dear friend, Jim Wilson.
- Sheri Dressler, formerly Director of Experiential Learning at University of Central Florida, memories of Harry, like those of Helen Olorosa, are related to his work with CECONET. She shares that Harry was clearly a creative person, enthusiastic and determined, with energy to support ideas he thought would be helpful for the field. “The strongest example I can recall was his effort to develop and promote CECONET. At the time, we were just edging into the technological age in our field and in others, but Harry was well ahead of most. The project did not take off, but within just a few years, everyone was computerizing their systems and software packages for our field started appearing as well. It was Harry though who realized the need and the benefits early on and introduced the opportunity to us.”
- Dawn Pettit, former executive director of CEA recalls that “I met Harry as a youngster (that’s what he called me) when he came to my college to do a program evaluation. He quickly became “A person to call” with questions. He told me much, much later that if he didn’t know the answer, he made it up! I loved that.
When I showed up for my interview for the staff position with CEA, I was really nervous. I was a very young 25-year-old, and knew that I was going to be talking to an interview panel of highly degreed field experts who knew all there was to know about co-op. Imagine my relief when I walked in the room, to see Harry’s face beaming at me. I knew I would be fine.
I traveled a lot with Harry and it was always interesting. He had more energy than both Eric Glover and I put together, and we were considerably younger than he. I remember Eric saying to me under his breath, “Does he ever quit?” Nope. Not until the job was done.
- Wanda Bolton, formerly of Bradley and Director of Cooperative Education at LIU C.W. Post College, recalls “when he came to C.W. Post to consult with my faculty, and his kindness when he shepherded me onto Long Island. I remember him as a saint among men and Susan’s friendliness. They took me to get real Baclava and to the best Chinese restaurant in Chinatown”.
- Freyda Lazarus, formerly Director of Cooperative education at Montclair University, remembers Harry as a “mentor who served as our wise counsel. Of course, I think of innovations at LaGuardia and CECONET, along with The Journal and international Co-op initiatives. I cherish a pin he made in a jewelry making course for me. All of us have great stories of a great friend for 50 years!”
- Pat Rowe, professor emerita in the Department of Psychology and the former Dean of Graduate Studies at the University of Waterloo, remembers, Harry as such a “major figure in co-op” and comments that she was “so in awe of him even late in her career”. After she retired, she came to know and appreciate how kind and friendly he was as well.
Harry passed on April 20th, 2022. Our thoughts are with his wonderful spouse, Susan, and their son, Richard. Your Husband and Father will live long because of what he accomplished, and particularly, because he was our good friend.
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