Name: Alan Harker

BYU employee since: 1994

My job at BYU is… associate academic vice president for Research and Graduate Studies. I have responsibility for the Graduate College and other research support entities as diverse as the Maxwell Institute, the Harold B. Lee Library, the Electron Microscopy lab and the MRI facility. I have oversight of the ORCA (Office of Research and Creative Activities) office, Intellectual Property Services offices and all academic space used for research and teaching. That sounds like too much, but there are wonderfully dedicated people who take care of all of these things and I just watch.

Alan Harker
Credit: Aaron Cornia/BYU Photo

Currently I’m working on… resource planning for 2017 and my June 7 Devotional talk.

I’m currently reading… Andersonville, by MacKinlay Kantor, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1955.

A merit badge counselor (who was a biology professor at Pasadena City College) …changed the eventual course of my life because… he had the courage to tell me that my work was not adequate, accurate or relevant to where I lived. He then arranged his schedule to take me on several field trips in the mountains behind my home and taught me about the ecology of the Southern California chaparral. Thus, a biologist and teacher is born.

When I tell colleagues that I work for BYU… they often wonder how I can adequately teach science in an religious envirnment. I tell them it is a pleasure to teach in a place where I can explore with students my understanding of all aspects of this world and its purposes.

My go-to BYU Creamery ice cream flavor is… this is so sad, but I can’t eat ice cream anymore. We only go to the creamery (after the Bean Museum) when the grandkids are in town.

My favorite BYU tradition is… the University Conference (for all faculty and staff) at the start of the Fall Semester. I have never experienced anything like it at any other university and it has always given me a lift as I approach a new year of teaching.

On Saturday mornings you’ll find me at home… with everything going on in our lives, Saturday is the day that my wife and I spend together in relative uninterrupted seclusion (read:  chores).

I’m most looking forward to… watching my grandchildren grow and take their place in the world.

My favorite quote is… I have so many, but this is one that I have been stewing over lately: “The image of the Lord in anyone is much more than reason enough to love him, and that the Lord stands waiting to take our enemies’ sins upon Himself. So it is a rejection of the reality of grace to hold our enemy at fault.” (Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson)

The biggest challenge I face is… the current one because it is always the one that I am not prepared for because of a deficiency in experience, wisdom or foresight.