MTV Cribs Tour and Interview with President Harris

Jamie Eddy || Feature Editor
Interview and insider look at the home of President Harris

It’s not every day that a university president opens their home to people they are unfamiliar with, let alone two students. In fact, some University of San Diego students have long awaited the opportunity to gain entrance into the home of the USD president, hoping to get the grand tour.

James T. Harris, PhD is wrapping up his first year as president of USD. A large number of students, faculty, and staff have acknowledged him as one of the most socially aware, personable, kindhearted, and actively participating presidents in the history of the school.

President Harris expressed gratitude and appreciation for a comfortable, pleasant transition into USD.

“It has been terrific fun to join the USD community, and the students have been wonderful,” Harris said. “Most of my surprises have been pleasant ones, especially working with our student leaders and discovering how much our students really do embody the changemaker spirit.”

President Harris changed the status quo and let two student journalists into his home for an MTV Cribs style visit with sophistication and class. The president willingly answered questions, allowed for photo ops, discussed the importance behind some of the objects in his home, and showed off the newest member of the Harris family, Ruby Rosebud, a golden doodle puppy.

His home, located nearby Bert’s Bistro, stands on USD property, yet is a gated getaway from campus life. The exterior of the house itself does not oblige to the same Spanish style architectural aesthetic that the rest of the campus buildings maintain. It is a one-level, relatively modest-sized home with kayaks out front, a number of outside courtyards to relax in, and a beautifully decorated and open living room space, which looks out at the well-manicured front yard.

The front yard is lined with a variety of trees, bird of paradise flowers, a lemon tree, and offers extensive space for entertaining purposes. The remarkable view is worth mentioning too. President Harris takes advantage of this space when hosting occasional gatherings for athletes, board of trustee members, alumni, close friends, and family.

Inside, President Harris and his wife Mary have a collection of paintings from their travels and from accomplished artist friends they’ve maintained strong ties with through the years. He lit up when discussing travel artifacts, literature, biographies, and his family heirloom, a petite cherry-wood stained rocking chair.

The kitchen boasts a large island in the center of the room, with stainless steal appliances, a noteworthy built-in wine cooler, and a variety of fruit arrangements? displayed throughout. From a glance, the double door fridge contained nothing out of the ordinary: juice, condiments, cheese, vegetables, and other perishables.

Although President Harris seems to maintain a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables based on the contents of his kitchen, he was quick to announce his love for Mexican food.

“My biggest adjustment has been trying to say no to the great Mexican food in San Diego, it’s that good,” Harris said.

During the sit down, informal interview portion of our visit, President Harris talked about subjects such as his current reads and his love for writing, as well as enhancing school spirit, the significance of alumni graduate participation and support, and his recent stint with jury duty.

In addition, he openly discussed his frequent travels with the purpose of fundraising and advocating for increased financial aid services in order to establish accessibility for all.

“We need to continue to do everything we can to help make USD more affordable so that every qualified student who wishes to join our academic community can do so regardless of their ability to pay,” Harris said.

He continued on to mention other challenges USD has and will continue to prioritize over the next few years.

“Another priority will be to intensify our efforts to become a more diverse and inclusive university,” Harris said. “A third priority will be to become more deeply engaged in San Diego. All of these efforts will help us fulfill our mission as a contemporary Catholic university and raise our national profile.”

President Harris is a busy man. So busy that during the brief walk to his home, a small group of students and one faculty member stopped him in his tracks. They proceeded by excitedly handing him a sealed invitation to attend an upcoming event. He acknowledged and listened to them wholeheartedly but requested they schedule it with his secretary Elaine.

Even with last minute notices and invitations, he somehow finds a way to recognize and incorporate the majority of requests into his full schedule, no matter if it’s a student, faculty, staff member, or even a request for an MTV Cribs walk through of his home.

Before wrapping up the conversation, President Harris was eager to impart one last statement before continuing with his daily activities.

“If I can add one last quote it would be to thank our students for their warm Torero welcome and for embracing me as your new president,” Harris said. “I pledge to do my best to help USD reach its full potential in the years ahead.”

His welcoming attitude, genuine excitement, firm handshake, and desire to listen to and learn from those around him make Harris truly unique as a university president. The future continues to look bright for President Harris, and the USD community will wait to see what brilliant act he gets his hands into next.