William Harris Named Interim President of Fort Valley State
Atlanta — June 13, 2005
University System of Georgia Chancellor Thomas C. Meredith announced today the appointment of Dr. William H. Harris, former president of Alabama State University and Paine College, as interim president of Fort Valley State University, in Fort Valley, Ga.
Harris will assume the interim presidency July 1. He will serve through the fall semester.
“Dr. Harris is a very talented administrator,” Meredith stated. “Even though he recently retired, he never hesitated to accept our call to service. We appreciate his commitment, and look forward to his leadership at Fort Valley.”
No stranger to leading Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Harris served as president of Alabama State University from 1994 to 2000. He also served as president of Texas Southern University, from 1988 to 1993, and Paine College, in Augusta, Ga., from 1982 to 1988. Previously, he was a member of the history faculty at Indiana University from 1972 to 1982, where he also held several administrative positions, including acting affirmative action officer, associate dean of the graduate school and director of the CIC Minorities Fellowship Program. During the 1977-78 academic year, Harris served as a Fulbright Professor and visiting professor of history at the University of Hamburg in Germany.
From 1985 to 1993, Harris served as vice chairman of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities/ETS Collaboration. He is the author of two books: Keeping the Faith: A. Philip Randolph, Milton P. Webster, and the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, published in 1977 and reissued in 1991 by the University of Illinois Press; and The Harder We Run: Black Workers Since the Civil War, published in 1982 by Oxford University Press.
While president of Paine College, Harris served on the board of directors of the Richmond County/Columbia County Unit of the American Cancer Society and on the board of directors at Augusta Junior Achievement.
He has earned numerous awards and distinctions, including having been named a Distinguished Son of Fitzgerald, Ga., during the town’s Centennial Observation in 1996. Paine College bestowed its Special Leadership Award on him from 1984 to 1988, and in 1988, also honored him with its Alumni Association Charles G. Gomillion Award and its Trustees Special Award. Harris also was designated as one of Fifty Most Influential Black Georgians in 1983-84.
Harris earned both his Ph.D. and MA. from Indiana University, which also honored him with its Distinguished Alumni Service Award in 1991. He holds an A.B. from Paine College, which also awarded him an honorary Doctor of Laws degree in 1991.
FVSU’s new interim president is married to Wanda Fillmore Harris and the couple has two children, Cynthia and William J. Harris.
In early May, Chancellor Meredith launched the formal search process to identify a permanent president for Fort Valley State University. The new president is expected to be named by the end of the year.