The 18 months since President Walter Harrison announced his retirement are down to five days. Walt retires this Friday, June 30, after 19 years as president of the University of Hartford. Accolades and recognitions for him are coming more often than the one-day-a-week summer UNotes schedule can accommodate. Here are his most recent honors:
President Harrison’s official portrait was unveiled during a farewell dinner hosted by the Board of Regents on June 15 in newly expanded space inside Harrison University Libraries. The portrait hangs in the library alongside the portraits of four previous presidents. Also during the dinner, the regents announced that they have granted Harrison the status of president emeritus.
The America East Conference announced on Wednesday, June 21, that its Academic Cup is now named the Walter Harrison Academic Cup. The Cup, which is the America East’s highest academic institutional honor, is presented annually to the college or university whose student-athletes post the highest grade-point average during that academic year. The Hawks have earned the Academic Cup four times during Harrison's presidency.
"President Harrison has been a valued and steady leader in America East during his time, seeing the conference through many changes,” America East Commissioner Amy Huchthausen said. “Through it all, he has remained an engaged participant and leader as a champion for the complete student-athlete experience.”
Harrison is recognized as one the most influential leaders of NCAA academic reform. In 2015, he received the NCAA's prestigious Gerald R. Ford Award for his dedication to improving the academic success of student-athletes. He led the development of the NCAA's Academic Progress Rate (APR) and chaired its Committee on Academic Performance from its creation in 2004 to 2014. He also served on the NCAA's Board of Directors and Executive Committee, including as chair from 2005–07.
President Harrison delivered the keynote address at the University High School of Science and Engineering (UHSSE) graduation on Tuesday, June 20. Harrison was instrumental in the founding of UHSSE in 2004, making UHart the first private university in the country with two public magnet schools on campus—UHSSE and the University of Hartford Magnet School.
While introducing Harrison. Alan Hadad, associate vice president and dean of University Magnet Schools said, “This extraordinary school would not be here if it were not for his vision.”
In his speech, Harrison talked about his “complex family history,” being raised by his parents and being cared for by an African-American couple for long stretches of time in his youth.
“I am one generation removed from an immigrant and two generations removed from American slaves,” he told the crowd. “I am living the dream of all of my parents and grandparents, able to achieve things they may have dreamed of, but could never achieve themselves. Believe me, I think of that every day of my life.” He urged the graduates to think of their own families and anyone who helped them along the way and to honor them with the choices they make in the future.
Of the 89 students who graduated from UHSSE, nearly all were accepted to a two- or four-year college or university. Others plan to enter the military or learn a vocation. Five students will attend the University of Hartford.