Dr. Bennie Harris sat down in an open forum with students and faculty on Wednesday to discuss the chancellor opening and his goals if he is to get the position. Dr. Harris currently serves as the Senior Vice President of Morehouse College’s School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia and is responsible for institutional advancement, partnership expansion and external affairs.
In the open forum Harris discussed his bold vision for the University which involved increasing enrollment, funding USC Upstate’s mission and recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic as a community. He spoke of the increasing number of high school graduates in the Upstate and the importance of keeping those students home, with a goal of increasing enrollment from 6,300 students to 10,000. He envisions USC Upstate becoming the “number one regional comprehensive institution in the country.”
As Chancellor, he believes his role is “to develop and inspire young people to change the world.” To him, that starts with investing in students by providing opportunities to connect with the plethora of businesses and other economic opportunities in Spartanburg and the Upstate. He also spoke of the importance of expanding the growth of the University’s technological infrastructure to ensure that Upstate can increase opportunities with our current and future student body.
Harris also understood the potential fallout of COVID-19 in our student body, faculty, and community. He stressed the importance of monitoring and overseeing the wellbeing of the University’s mental health. Harris suggested there could be a rise in anxiety and other mental health symptoms as students return to campus, but he underscored that understanding and helping students, families and faculty with their mental health is his priority.
Dr. Bennie Harris holds a bachelor of sciences degree in industrial engineering from Mississippi State University, an MBA in strategic marketing from Washington State University and a doctorate of philosophy in educational leadership and marketing from the University of Alabama and the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He has held leadership positions in institutional advancement at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee, DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois, University of Alabama at Birmingham and Washington State University.
Also, Dr. Harris is involved in several local and national organizations such as Leadership Atlanta, 100 Black Men of Atlanta, Executive Director of Phi Beta Sigma International Leadership Academy, Atlanta Chapter of the Susan G. Komen Board of Directors, Lipscomb University Board of Trustees, America Association of Medical Colleges Development Council and CASE Faculty.
Dr. Harris is also married to Frankie Andrea Harris and together they have three adult children, Bria, Bennie II, and Branden.
Interviews with Chancellor candidates will continue through Thursday.