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Harl Tolbert

Harl Tolbert

Assistant VP for research | Penn State | Class of 1994

Just as Harl Tolbert was fretting over how he’d be received as a new-to-town visiting undergraduate summer animal sciences research student, along came the Illini welcome wagon.

“I remember on my first day peeking through the glass door of the lab unsure of how I would make my introduction when a graduate student saw me, cane out and grabbed me by the arm, pulled me aside and said, ‘He’s here,’” says Tolbert (MS '94, animal sciences; MBA '99).

“Since that day, I have been a part of the Illinois family,” says Tolbert, now Penn State’s assistant vice president for research and director of the Office for Technology Management.

“I made so many friends in the (Animal Sciences) department; I am still in touch with some of them more than 20 years later, both personally and professionally. Like many others, I also meet my wife at the university.

“Probably the most touching moment at the university occurred my last week there. After getting my master’s degree in the department, I left, worked at Carle Clinic for a few years and then returned to the university a couple of years later to get my MBA.

“The day of my graduation from MBA school, I was surprised to be informed by one of my former Animal Sciences professors, Dr. Janice Bahr, that she had arranged a catered graduation party for me, my family and my friends in the Animal Sciences Building.

“I couldn’t imagine a better first day and last day at the University of Illinois.”