Dr. LaVerne Harmon, President of Wilmington University

Portrait of Dr. Harmon
Dr. LaVerne Harmon, President


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.

Dr. Harmon continues to lead the University through the COVID-19 pandemic. She oversaw an immediate and seamless transition from in-person to remote instruction that safeguarded academic integrity and ensured uninterrupted learning for more than 20,000 students. She convened a Response Planning Committee to develop a preparation strategy to maintain smooth operations throughout the unparalleled crisis for a fully remote workforce. She also oversees operations of the University’s Criminal Justice Institute, established in 2018, and recently announced the founding of the Wilmington University School of Law, which will enroll its first class in August of 2023.

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 Fresh Start Scholarship Foundation Inspiration Award (2021); Girl Scouts of the 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 informs many successful and respected leaders’ actions and behaviors. Proceeds from book sales are donated to the Wilmington University Linda Thomas Scholarship, which Dr. Harmon founded in 1999 in memory of her sister.

Dr. Harmon serves on several boards, including the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU); Delaware State Chamber of Commerce (Board of Directors); International Women’s Forum; Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (Presidents Council Treasurer); Fresh Start Scholarship Foundation (Advisory); Easterseals Delaware & Maryland’s Eastern Shore (Advisory); The Mary Campbell Center; American Council on Education: Office of Women in Higher Education Delaware Network (Presidential Sponsor and Executive Committee Member); United Way of Delaware (Executive Committee, Officer-at-Large); Boys & Girls Club of Delaware; Wilmington Alliance; and the Greater Kent Committee. Dr. Harmon 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 (DAWN) and served as a Paul Harris Fellow of Rotary International.