Printing Industries of America/Graphic Arts Technical Foundation (PIA/GATF) has named Ron and Katherine Harper the winners of its 2007 Education Award of Excellence for industry representatives. The awards are presented annually to an academic representative and an industry representative in recognition of outstanding contributions to education and training in the graphic arts.
Ron and Katherine Harper are the husband and wife team who founded Harper Corporation of America, a global anilox roll supplier with two locations in the United States and licenses in Bangkok, Thailand (Harper Asia/Pacific) and Herford, Germany (Harper Graphics). The Harpers’ generosity is legendary in flexo education. They helped pilot the first Flexo in High Schools program (now Flexo in Education) in the early 1990s, filling a void in vocational education for youth and establishing a trained future workforce for flexography. In 2002 they created the Flexo College of the Year Award, which is presented annually during the Flexographic Technical Association Forum. Their many generous donations of anilox rolls, both in the US and abroad, provide quality resources for students and allow graduates to be better prepared for the work force.
In 2005, the Harpers helped establish a hands-on flexo program at the Instituto Nacional de Aprendizaje de Costa Rica (INA) in San Jose, Costa Rica. In addition, their donation to California Polytechnic State University’s Graphic Communication Department established the Ron and Katherine Harper Endowment, which supports flexography education, facilitates laboratory development, and allows students to travel to flexography conferences.
The Harpers’ support for the flexo programs at Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC) and Appalachian State University (ASU) has resulted in CPCC’s Harper Campus in Charlotte, NC, USA, which houses the Harper National Flexographic Center, and ASU’s Katherine Harper Hall, home of its graphics program on the Boone, NC campus.
Earlier this year, Ron Harper established the “Katherine Harper Teacher’s Education Fund” through the Phoenix Challenge Foundation, sponsor of the Phoenix Challenge Annual International High Schools and College Flexographic Competition, which has also been a major beneficiary of the Harpers’ philanthropy.