Averett Executive Vice President Honored as Outstanding Alumnus at Alma Mater

Posted on May 16th, 2018 by Cassie Jones

Charles S. Harris, executive vice president at Averett University, was honored during Hampton University’s commencement ceremony with the 2018 Outstanding Alumnus-at-Large Award on Sunday, May 13, at 10 a.m. in Hampton University’s Armstrong Stadium.

As a member of the Class of 1973, Harris graduated from Hampton University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Media Arts. He was contacted recently by Hampton University President Dr. William R. Harvey regarding his selection for the award, for which he was chosen because of his career accomplishments and his support of the university.

“It really came out of the blue for me,” said Harris, describing his surprise. “I’m honored, especially with this being the 45th anniversary for our class.”

After working in student media, Harris began his professional career working as a journalist for Newsweek Magazine, and then moved into higher education communications at Hampton University. He transitioned to the University of Michigan as the marketing director, and then moved into the position of assistant athletic director there. Following his new path in athletics administration, Harris went on to serve as the first African American athletics director at both the University of Pennsylvania and Arizona State University, and later as the commissioner of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.

The Red Oak, Va. native returned to the region and joined Averett University in 2004, where he served as the athletics director and then as the vice president for student services. In 2009, he took on his current role of executive vice president for Averett, overseeing corporate governance and strategic planning management and major capital projects.

“During his time with Averett, Charles has made such an impact, and this recognition from his alma mater is well deserved,” said Averett University President Dr. Tiffany M. Franks. “Charles has been at the helm of so many major projects that have helped propel this university forward, and I’m proud to serve alongside such an accomplished colleague.”

Growing up on a farm in Mecklenburg County, Va., Harris recalls what his time at Hampton University meant to him, including meeting his wife, Lenora Billings-Harris.

“It’s the fact that I was able to connect with really substantive people,” he said. “It put me on a path to meet my wife, and to believe there were other things out there to be seen and achieved.”

Despite his many successes, he remains grateful for the many people who have helped him get where he is today.

“There are lots of people who do lots of great things, and to be recognized is very flattering. But I recognize that any success that I have is because of people who I have been fortunate enough to be around and the people on whose shoulders I stand.”


*Editor’s Note: The second image of Charles Harris (right) accepting the award from Hampton University President Dr. Dr. William R. Harvey is courtesy of Hampton University.