Penn State Forum: James Thomas Harris III

"Rethinking the Social Compact" Harris became the ninth president of Widener University on July 1, 2002. Since then he has directed a highly inclusive, university-wide strategic planning process to determine the future direction of Widener University. As a national advocate and leader for civic engagement and service learning, Harris serves as the chief of Pennsylvania Campus Compact, an organization of 68 public and independent colleges and universities committed to civic engagement. Before going to Widener, Harris was president of Defiance College in Defiance, Ohio. During his eight-year tenure at Defiance, the college experienced record fund raising, enrollment and endowment growth. Harris served as vice president for advancement at both Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, and the College of Mount St. Joseph in Cincinnati. He also held administrative posts in corporate and foundation relations and financial aid at Penn State. Harris began his career in education as a social science teacher at Toledo's Central Catholic and Highland High School. A native of Fostoria, Ohio, he received his bachelor's degree in education from the University of Toledo in 1980. In 1983, he earned his master's degree in education from Edinboro University in Pennsylvania, and in 1988 was awarded a doctoral degree in education from Penn State. He also completed postdoctoral studies at Harvard University's Graduate School of Education.