President Harris inaugurated


Photo courtesy of Nick Kowlaski

Photo courtesy of Nick Kowlaski

While this first week of December marked the last month of the semester for many students, it marked the official beginning of President Harris’ leadership.

In a swell of anticipation the crowded seats on the floor of the Jenny Craig Pavilion filled with many USD community members. As people continued to file in and position themselves along the rows of chairs, blue banners, and dim lighting dressed the empty stage at the front of the pavilion.

This past Friday, the University of San Diego inaugurated James T. Harris III as the university’s fourth president. Harris took office in the August of this year, but it was this past week that symbolized his official inauguration as the university’s president.

The processional began with the familiar horns of Pomp and Circumstance. Faculty, trustees, flag bearers, and others walked to the stage. The crowd rose and the Bishop of the Diocese of San Diego, The Most Reverend Robert W. McElroy proceeded in front of Alice B. Hayes, USD’s second president, Mary E. Lyons, USD’s last president, Ron L. Fowler the chairman of the board of trustees and then finally President Harris.

The national anthem brought the processional to a close, and the ceremony began. Many USD community members, the Associated Student President to a member of the Linda Vista Community Development Corporation, delivered speeches welcoming President Harris to San Diego and USD.

Amongst the many speeches there was no shortage of praise for Dr. Harris. Richard Dorman, a part of Campus Compact, an organization uniting Pennsylvania campuses, described his relationship with Dr. Harris.

“[Dr. Harris] is a leader who recognizes that a truly educated student possesses not only a well developed mind but a well developed heart,” Dorman said.

Dorman was followed by many other speeches praising Harris for his leadership work at Weidner University, where he was president. Hugh Ellis, chair of the University of San Diego or faculty senate, articulated the evolution of getting to know Harris.

“Concern melted into relief, relief into enthusiasm […] hope has matured into expectation,” Ellis said.

Ellis also mentioned how Harris arrived at USD after many changes, specifically the death of Sister Sally Furay, a former provost and professor who served the USD community for many years, and Author Hughes, USD’s first president who passed away earlier this semester.

After over 10 short speeches, Harris was presented with the presidential medallion. Harris delivered his inaugural address. After the introductory acknowledgements, Harris started with a quote.

“My friends know how much I enjoy reading biographies and that David McCullough is a favorite author of mine,” Harris said. “[…] there is a quote he highlights which resonates with me, since I grew up in Ohio. When Wilbur [Wright] was asked about what advice he would give someone on how to succeed in life, he replied, ‘Pick out a good father and mother and begin life in Ohio.’”

Harris continued to add his own twist to the quote.

“If I could amend his advice, I would add two key elements,” Harris said. “One is to marry well, and the second is to be fortunate enough to be surrounded by competent people from diverse backgrounds and experiences, because what will make you successful in the end is being surrounded by capable and competent people.”

Harris’ address centered on a theme, the three E’s of citizenship.

“I would propose that we deconstruct citizenship and consider preparing students as citizens in three ways for Global Citizenship…what might be called the three E’s: Preparing them to be Enlightened Citizens, Ecological Citizens, and Engaged Citizens,” Harris said.

Harris further elaborated the three E’s and explained some goals that he hopes USD will achieve.

“As a leader in preparing global citizens, we at USD must be champions for these types of experiences for all students,” Harris said. “There probably has never been a greater time in our nation’s history than right now that our country has needed more liberally educated citizens, who have traveled abroad, experienced other cultures, and studied other languages.”

Calling on the sayings of Pope Francis, phrases from the seal of the United States, e. plurbis unum and personal anecdotes, Harris delivered a message that was designed to empower a USD community that would be inclusive on a local and global scale.

After the president concluded his remarks the ceremony ended with music, the benediction and the exit of the processional.

A complete copy of his speech can be found on the USD website.