Dr. Eric Darr always dreamed of “building a university” and he is well on his way to fulfilling his hopes and dreams.
Dr. Darr was named President of Harrisburg University by the Board of Trustees effective May 9, 2013. He previously served as interim president and prior to that, he served as a consultant to help create Harrisburg University. Eric joined the University full-time as the founding Vice President of Finance and Administration. He also has served as a member of the faculty, was Executive Vice President, and Provost.
Under his leadership, Harrisburg University’s enrollment has grown from 500 to more than 6,000 students. The University also added 33 new graduate and undergraduate concentrations and degree programs. Faculty have secured many grants and student scholarship support, throughout Dr. Darr’s term and the University’s Market Street Tower was completed, adding more classrooms and laboratory space to meet the needs of growing academic programs and enrollment.
Dr. Darr has opened two facilities and is presently securing a third. One of the new facilities is in center-city Philadelphia. And, in 2019, the University broke ground on a $100 million Health Science Education Center in downtown Harrisburg, a project Dr. Darr has spearheaded to address the growing need for healthcare professionals throughout Central Pennsylvania.
The Health Science Education Center will serve at least 1,000 new students in nursing, pharmaceutical science, and other allied health programs. It also will include classrooms and training space for advanced manufacturing and interactive media programs, in addition to auditoriums, and student life and tutoring areas.
During his tenure, Dr. Darr also:
• Transformed Harrisburg University into the region’s premier research institution.
• Spearheaded the creation of the University’s only varsity sports program, The HU Storm Esports team, which took home a National Championship in its first year.
• Created the nation’s premier collegiate Esports gaming facility.
• Created HUE FEST, the nation’s largest collegiate esports tournament.
• Initiated student housing projects.
• Opened a state-of-the-art student union.
• Launched a successful concert series that routinely brings the best in live entertainment to the Harrisburg area and helps drives the local economy.
Prior to building a lasting legacy at Harrisburg University, Dr. Darr blazed a trail in education and business around the globe. He served as Chief Operating Officer at Knowledge Planet, Inc., a software company located in Mechanicsburg, Pa., from 2000 to 2004. From 1997 to 2000, he led Ernst & Young’s Knowledge Management Consulting Services.
Dr. Darr also developed and taught Doctoral and MBA courses at UCLA in organizational learning, organizational change, organization design, process re-engineering, business strategy and technology management. Further, he developed and taught executive education courses in measuring intellectual capital, corporate renewal, managing information technology resources, improving product development, and creating organizational memory.
During this time, he also published numerous articles and book chapters on organizational learning, learning technologies and competitive advantage. In addition, he was an invited speaker at universities in the United States, Austria, Great Britain, France, Australia, and the Netherlands. His research was supported by the National Science Foundation and the Center for International Business Educational and Research at UCLA.
The road to Eric’s successful career began at Mechanicsburg High School, where he graduated in 1981. Upon graduation, he left his hometown of Shiresmantown and enrolled at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), majoring in Mechanical Engineering. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from RPI in 1985. And while there he held several swim-team records.
Dr. Darr began his career designing turbine engines in Phoenix. Several years later, he moved back east and again enrolled in RPI, where he earned a Master of Science degree in Industrial Psychology in 1988.
From there, Eric traveled to Pittsburgh to enroll in Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), and in 1991 earned his second Master of Science degree in Organizational Behavior. While at CMU, he studied under Nobel Prize Winner and noted organizational theorist, Herbert Simon, and in 1994 earned a Doctor of Philosophy in Industrial Administration.
Eric’s travels next took him west to Anderson Graduate School of Management at the University of California at Los Angeles. He conducted research and consulted more than 20 multinational corporations, including Arthur Andersen, Gemini Consulting, TRW Space and Electronics, Hughes Aerospace, Bank of America, Xerox, British Airways, and Qantas Airlines.
Harrisburg University owes much of its success to Dr. Darr’s leadership. A ‘hometown guy’ and champion of the greater Harrisburg region, his vision, work, and entrepreneurial spirit is what led Corporate LiveWire to name Harrisburg University U.S. STEM University of the Year for two consecutive years.