February 19, 2007
Senior vice provost for community and diversity named
BY helen anne richards
Ozzie Harris, formerly director of Dartmouth College's Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity, has been named Emory's first senior vice provost for community and diversity. He will begin the new position March 1.
"Ozzie Harris has dedicated his professional life and much of his personal life to exploring matters of diversity and building community, and we are delighted that he will lead this important part of Emory's future," Provost Earl Lewis said. "His past success in engaging dialogue, while respecting dissent and honoring intellectual discourse, will allow Emory to create new structures and envision new possibilities for community."
Harris will be charged with three broad areas of concern at Emory: building community through existing programs on campus in academic affairs, student life and presidential commissions; working with academic units to transfer theory to practice in the Atlanta community; and creating meaningful opportunities for interaction on campus.
"Emory has identified five broad themes on which to build its future, and building community and engaging society is fundamental to the success of the institution," President Jim Wagner said. "Building community may begin with individuals, but it expands from there to encompass building community among health sciences and humanities, business and law, science and religion."
Emory already has most of the building blocks necessary to create a vibrant community, Lewis said, but true community requires more than having many different kinds of people in one place. "It's not just enough to have different faces on campus," he said. "It is our job to create safe, respectful places for meaningful engagement with one another."
"I was delighted when Provost Lewis offered me the appointment," Harris said. "The search process was so well managed and people I met were so supportive of the position, I knew immediately that Emory was the place for me."
Harris said that his interest in community and diversity began when he was a child. As part of a military family -- his father served in the Air Force for 28 years -- Harris moved frequently, attending 10 schools before graduating high school. His family lived in Scotland, England, Germany and many cities in the United States. Starting over each year -- meeting new teachers and friends -- had a profound impact on his view of the world.
Harris said he was often considered an enigma. He was a bit football player who loved writing short stories and poems. He wanted to be a writer, but also wanted to be of service to others.
"My first interest in community and diversity really began by being a kid and trying to figure out how the world is organized," Harris said. "I wondered what helped some people be very successful and what kept others from succeeding."
He earned an undergraduate degree in English from Dartmouth in Hanover, N.H., and a law degree from Vermont Law School in South Royalton. Before moving to Dartmouth in 1992, he worked with the Boston Human Rights Commission and with the New Hampshire Public Defender's office.
Harris began his tenure at Dartmouth in the Financial Aid Office, but after a year moved to the Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity, where he served in several capacities before being named director in 2001.
"Three things really impressed me about Ozzie," said Peter Barnes, vice president of human resources and co-chair of the search committee. "He is remarkably articulate about difficult topics. He is very approachable and is interested in different issues. And he is a leader in this field because of the depth of his experience and knowledge."
Harris was selected after a year-long process that involved defining the position and identifying a potential candidate pool. Scott Walker from the recruitment firm of Spencer Stuart helped the committee focus its search and interview process. Harris was selected from three finalists. An internal candidate, Nadine Kaslow, professor in the School of Medicine's Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and chief psychologist at Grady, was one of the finalists but withdrew her nomination before the decision was made.
Rosemary Magee, Emory vice president and secretary and co-chair of the search committee, said, "We had a pool of extraordinarily strong candidates and the finalists were all excellent. They demonstrated an impressive depth of experience and commitment to higher education, as well as a dedication to building community."
Harris will be here in March. His wife, Mary, a clinical nurse, plans to move to Atlanta this summer with their son, Christian, a high school sophomore. The Harris' daughter, Hannah, is a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.