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John Harvard's Journal

Huntington Lambert

March-April 2014

Huntington Lambert

Huntington Lambert

Photograph by Jim Harrison

In the old farmhouse in Dover, Massachusetts, where “Hunt” Lambert grew up, “everything was broken.” His chore as an eight-year-old was to wake up early and take a blowtorch to the pipes, so the water could get past the ice—or, if ice had burst the pipe, to cut out that section and weld in a new one. “I’m a handyman—all I do is fix things,” he says. “I went from pipes to fixing multinational corporations and now, fixing higher education. Toasters are my specialty, but multinational corporations pay better.” As dean of continuing education and University extension since 2013, his ambitions run large: “to ensure that high-quality education is available at a fair price to the 20 million Americans who need better education to participate in a knowledge economy.” At 10 years old, the “massively dyslexic” Lambert couldn’t read, but could break down and reassemble a car. He became an expert cliff-jumping and mogul skier who turned into a “really serious” student at Colorado College, where he majored in psychology and business, met his wife, Kelly, now a lawyer, and graduated in 1980. Next he joined a venture-capital company before earning an M.S. in management from MIT’s Sloan School in 1984. He worked in strategic marketing for US West in Denver, then moved to Colorado State University, where he taught, directed the Center for Entrepreneurship, and, with a team, created a public online university in 11 months. Now, Harvard is offering HarvardX MOOCs that award certificates of completion through the Faculty of Arts and Sciences’ Division of Continuing Education. “Besides the 20 million in America, let’s talk about the two billion outside America,” he says. “We all know that the only path to sustainable freedom is education.”