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Editorial: Welcome, President Harris

Editorial: Welcome, President Harris

New Union College leader brings high praise, an extensive resume
Editorial: Welcome, President Harris
Dr. David Harris is introduced Tuesday on the Union College campus.
Photographer: MARC SCHULTZ

If you want a glimpse into what you’re getting, ask the people who are giving it up.

Judging from the comments made by his Tufts University colleagues, Union College students, alumni, instructors and administrators and the entire Schenectady community are getting something pretty special in new Union President David R. Harris.

Dr. Harris was formally announced Tuesday as the 223-year-old college’s 19th president, a job he’ll begin on July 1.

He’ll have big shoes to fill.

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Outgoing President Stephen Ainlay has a long list of accomplishments during his 12-year tenure.

He helped advance the school’s efforts to provide an outstanding education in liberal arts, engineering and other areas of study, and expanded the college’s already strong academic reputation.

The college has expanded its ethnic and geographic diversity, attracted millions of dollars in investment, upgraded the college’s infrastructure, and expanded the college’s applicant pool, allowing it to invite and attract the best applicants.

Oh, and there’s that national college hockey championship.

If past accomplishments and the praise of his peers are any indicator, Dr. Harris will be up to the challenge.

“A leader who cares deeply about equity, fairness, diversity and inclusion at every level,” was how one colleague of Harris’ described him to the student-run newspaper, The Tufts Daily.

Another colleague said Dr. Harris had shown a “keen understanding of and commitment to” fostering and supporting the experience of undergraduate and graduate students.”

In shepherding Tuft’s university-wide strategic plan, T-10, Dr. Harris was the “strong leader” who brought the community-wide effort together.

Dr. Harris brings with him not only administrative leadership through his tenure at Tufts, Cornell University and in public service at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, but a deep understanding and belief in the value of a liberal arts education and the significant role it can play in today’s society. 

As an educator and sociologist, he’s combined multiple disciplines to advance our collective understanding of racial equality and diversity, having written and edited publications extensively on the topic. His passion and understanding of the complex issues related to diversity will serve the college well in improving its own strong record on diversity. 

Dr. Harris brings a unique and diverse skill set to the college presidency and a deep understanding of the people and the institution he is getting ready to lead.

We join the Union College and the Schenectady communities in welcoming Dr. Harris to our area, we wish him the best of luck in his new position, and we’re excited for him to get started.

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