Dr. LaVerne Harmon, President of Wilmington University

Portrait of Dr. Harmon


Dr. LaVerne Harmon became President of Wilmington University in July of 2017 after being unanimously approved by its Board of Trustees. She is the first African-American woman to be named the president of a college or university in Delaware. Dr. Harmon holds a Doctorate in Higher Education Administration from the University of Pennsylvania.

She has led the university through the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring a seamless transition from in-person to remote instruction to safeguard academic integrity for over 20,000 students. While overseeing a predominantly remote workforce, Dr. Harmon convened a Response Planning Committee to develop a preparation strategy to maintain smooth operations throughout the unprecedented crisis.

Dr. Harmon began working at Wilmington University (then college) in 1989 and held numerous positions while earning undergraduate and graduate degrees from Wilmington University. She then maintained her full-time position while earning her doctorate. Dr. Harmon held key roles in the university’s internal operations, planning, and strategic growth, flourishing from positions as assistant to the President to director of Human Resources, from director of Student Affairs and Alumni Relations to vice president of Student Affairs, and from Executive Vice President to President. Dr. Harmon dedicates herself to the well-being and success of all students. A collaborative leader who also thrives on building partnerships, she created the university’s Leadership Institute, established its offices of Student Affairs and Disability Services, and advanced the university’s athletics from NAIA to NCAA Division II.

Dr. Harmon has earned numerous accolades, including the Girl Scouts of Chesapeake Bay Northern Woman of Distinction Award (2019); Girls Inc. Strong, Smart & Bold Award (2018); Associazione Regional Abruzzese Delco Person of the Year Award (2018); New Castle County Chamber of Commerce Women’s Leadership Award (2018); NAACP Martha Evans Excellence in Education Award (Wilmington branch) (2018); Toastmaster’s District 18 Communication & Leadership Award (2017); Educator of the Year Award from the Nu Upsilon Chapter of Omega Psi Phi (2017); The National Association of University Women Educator of the Year Award (2015); Markevic A. Johnson Scholarship Foundation Woman of Distinction Award (2015); Phi Delta Kappa Educator of the Year Award (2013); The American Council on Education Leadership Award (2011); and The National Association of University Women Community Service in Education Award (2000).

Dr. Harmon authored and published The Heart of Leadership: A Personal Reflection, a book that enlightens professionals about the importance of compassion, a trait that drives many successful and respected leaders’ actions and behaviors. Proceeds from book sales are donated to the Wilmington University Linda Thomas Scholarship, which Dr. Harmon established in 1999 in memory of her sister.

An ardent proponent of community service, Dr. Harmon serves on several boards, including the United Way of Delaware, Boys & Girls Club of Delaware, Delaware State Chamber of Commerce, Wilmington Alliance, and the Greater Kent Committee. She is also a member of The Grand Opera House board and was the 2017 co-chair of its Grand Gala. Dr. Harmon was instrumental in establishing the Delaware American Council on Education Women’s Network and served as a Paul Harris Fellow of Rotary International.