Harlan to receive Chancellor’s Award at UW-Green Bay Commencement

GREEN BAY — Retired Green Bay Packers President Bob Harlan will receive a Chancellor’s Award, the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay’s highest community honor, at the University’s Fall 2008 Commencement on Saturday, Dec. 20.

Bob Harlan

Bob Harlan

Harlan is recognized for his extraordinary success as chief executive of the NFL’s only fan-owned franchise, his commitment to making his community a better place, and his support of the University and its Phoenix Athletics program.

The Chancellor’s Award shines a spotlight on Harlan’s role in helping UW-Green Bay move up to NCAA Division I status in the 1980s. As Packers president, he worked actively to form the Phoenix Fund, the fundraising arm of Phoenix Athletics. He provided momentum by agreeing to serve as the organization’s first chairperson.

In the years since, Harlan and the Packers have co-sponsored the annual Packers/Phoenix steak fry and hosted the fundraiser at Lambeau Field and the new atrium. Harlan and team personnel have been loyal friends of the program, sharing motivational talks before big games, and making themselves available for tours and meetings as an aid in recruiting.

“The relationship has picked up quite a lot,” Harlan once told a reporter. “We feel that we need to give strong support to the local school.”

Harlan retired last January after 37 years with the Green Bay Packers, including 19 as its principal executive. He now serves the organization as chairman emeritus and as a goodwill ambassador.

Harlan is credited for overseeing the resurgence of a franchise that went on to post the NFL’s best overall record from 1993 through 2007. Relying heavily on the talents of Ron Wolf, Mike Holmgren, Brett Favre and Reggie White, the Packers returned the Lombardi Trophy to Green Bay with a victory in Super Bowl XXXI. Off the field, the crowning achievement of Harlan’s tenure — the $295 million redevelopment of historic Lambeau Field — was widely regarded as essential to the team’s financial survival.

Prior to joining the Packers as assistant general manager in 1971, Harlan served as a public relations executive for baseball’s St. Louis Cardinals, as sports publicist for Marquette University (working for a time with legendary coach Al McGuire) and as a news reporter. He earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism at Marquette University and had a brief tour of duty with the U.S. Army.

A native of Des Moines, Iowa, he and his wife, Madeline, have three sons — Kevin, 48, Bryan, 46, and Michael, 39 — plus four grandchildren.