ill Harvey made a big impact during his 36 years as a drama professor at Olympic College. Part counselor. Part father figure. Always inspiring. He did much more than put on plays, he also imparted leadership and people skills that changed his students’ lives.
“I wanted them to learn literature. I wanted them to learn to work together. I wanted a commitment. And if they happened to have talent, that was nice, too,” he said.
Businesswoman and former student Catherine Worley remembers him fondly: “He taught me more about working with people and organizing things than I ever learned in business school.”
Such devotion was common. Many students kept in touch with Harvey for decades after leaving OC and one anonymous alum even endowed a $25,000 scholarship in his name.
“It was satisfying to see something bloom, to watch the ‘aha’ moments occur.”
Ironically, Harvey never planned to make OC his career. When he arrived in 1959, he planned to stay five years. But he quickly came to love working with community college students.
“They weren’t handpicked and fluffed up,” he said. “It was there the challenge lay and I took it on. It was satisfying to see something bloom, to watch the ‘aha’ moments occur.”
Harvey passed away in 2017, but his legacy lives on. As a former Olympic College Foundation Board member, he knew firsthand how student scholarships and emergency aid can transform students’ lives. That’s why he included OC in his estate plan.
His contributions were also recognized by the OC Board of Trustees, who named the college’s new theater after him. The William D. Harvey Theatre is a 276-seat learning space for students that also serves as a performing arts center for the entire community. The state-of-the-art performance space opened in January 2018 and has already hosted numerous lectures in addition to an OC opera, a play by Central Stage Theatre and a solo concert by grammy-award winning pianist George Winston.
Harvey would be proud.