The trustees of Widener University will extend the contract of President James T. Harris III, Ph. D. for another five years beyond its current expiration date.
The contract extension was announced by Board of Trustees Chairman Nicholas Trainer and is set to extend Harris’s role as president through June 30, 2017.
“President Harris's strong and inspiring vision for Widener University to become a leading metropolitan institution is matched only by his approach to lead us toward a future in which our university is recognized as one of the most dynamic and civically committed universities in the country,” Trainer said. “The trustees are confident that Dr. Harris is the best president for Widener University at this time in our history and delighted he has agreed to this extension.”
Named to the position in 2002, Harris is only the ninth president in the 191-year history of Widener University.
During his tenure, Widener has increased its student population to reach record undergraduate enrollment numbers, enhanced its commitment to students and faculty through advanced educational studies and nationally accredited programs, and received national recognition for its leadership in civic engagement.
Highlights of Harris's work at Widener include: a new doctorate programs in social work, human sexuality, and nursing and expanded graduate and undergraduate offerings in cutting-edge programs such as biomedical engineering and informatics; a new School of Education, Innovation, and Continuing Studies.
In addition to serving as Widener's president, Harris is the current chair of the Board of Directors of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania, the vice chair of the National Board of Campus Compact, and the vice president of the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities.
Since 2002, he has been a member of the faculty of the Management Development program and the Management in Leadership Education program at Harvard University.
In 2011, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) presented President Harris with the Chief Executive Leadership Award (District II). He co-authored Academic Leadership and Governance of Higher Education, which will be published this fall by Stylus Publishing.
Harris earned degrees from the University of Toledo, Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, and Pennsylvania State University. Prior to his arrival at Widener, Harris served eight years as president of Defiance College in Ohio.
“I am sincerely grateful to my colleagues at Widener for all that we have accomplished over the past decade,” Harris said. “I am especially thankful for the continued support of the Board of Trustees and am humbled in their confidence that together we can continue to move our institution forward. It is an honor and a privilege to serve as president of Widener University, and I look forward to the opportunities for our university to become an even more exceptional learning environment for all of our students.”