Garden City Community College has named the Academic Building lecture hall in honor of Dr. Asel “Ace” Harder, former GCCC Dean of Instruction (1971-1992) and a longtime supporter of GCCC.
A plaque featuring Dr. Harder’s portrait and his biography will be placed outside both entrances of the lecture hall.
Harder went to school in a one-room school near Wells, Kansas. With the help of his mother, he registered in Civil Engineering at Kansas State University in the fall of 1948.
Harder attended for two years before going into the Army for two years. It was during his time in the Army that he was asked to help with teaching the leadership school. After his time in the military, he married his wife Joanne and finished his bachelor’s degree in mathematics at K-State and began his 42-year career in education.
Through his own struggles learning math in high school, he learned ways to make it easier and in turn taught this to his students, who respected and appreciated his approach.
After graduating college, Harder went to work teaching in Greensburg, KS. He made the
transition from teaching into Administration after receiving his master’s degree while at Ellinwood, KS, and after four years and earning his Doctorate in Topeka, he attended a meeting
with GCCC Trustee Kathryn Jones. She suggested he move to Garden City and become Dean of
Instruction at GCCC.
At the time, Garden City Community College was comprised of only three buildings and was beginning campus expansion. Dr. Harder was the initial instructional leader of the current campus location of GCCC while it was being constructed and built.
Not only was the physical expansion of campus a large project that Dr. Harder assisted with, but
he played an influential role in expanding academic transfer requirements. He was instrumental in state-wide legislation, serving on the initial transfer articulation council at the state to
develop the framework of transfer between 2-year and 4-year institutions.
Dr. Harder served GCCC as Dean of Instruction from 1971-1992. Following his retirement in 1992, he returned as an adjunct faculty member at GCCC, teaching mathematics from 2002-2006.
Dr. Harder celebrated his 97th birthday on October 9, 2022, and he and his wife Joanne visited
the GCCC campus with four generations of their family. He told them that he considers GCCC to be the “frosting on the cake” of his 42 years in education and that he “loves this place.”
Their four children all have college degrees and seven of Harder’s family members are alumni of
Garden City Community College. Dr. Harder resides in Garden City with his wife and continues
advocating and supporting GCCC.
“Many students are not ready for college, and GCCC is a wonderful transition for those students to come and find out what they want to do,” Dr. Harder stated during his visit to campus on October 8, 2022. “GCCC is economical and provides structure and services for those students that aren’t quite prepared – especially in math. Students need to continue doing something after high school, whether it is pursuing a degree or certificate.”
Dr. Ryan Ruda, GCCC President, reflected on Dr. Harder’s impact.
“Dr. Harder’s influence has left a legacy of leadership across campus, and we are honored that the Board of Trustees approved naming the Academic Lecture Hall after him,” he said. “Dr. Harder’s distinguished service and 21 years of dedication to GCCC are outstanding.”