University of Hartford President Walter Harrison is the recipient of the 2013 President’s Award given annually by the New England regional chapter of NASPA (National Association of Student Personnel Administrators). This award recognizes a college or university president who has advanced the quality of student life on campus by supporting student affairs staff and programs over a sustained period of time,
While introducing Harrison, who is in his 16th year as president of the University of Hartford, the University’s Vice President of Student Affairs J. Lee Peters said, “This award recipient is a unique president who is dedicated to advancing the student experience on the academic and co-curricular level. He understands the importance and value of the education students receive in and out of the classroom environment and is focused on the overall holistic development of students. He is a president who has the heart of a student affairs practitioner”
As president, Harrison “has made a conscious effort to not only be visible to students, but has also gotten involved in student life on a personal level. Beyond attending student events, he has performed in student plays, hosted dinners for our student leaders at his home, made omelets during our annual midnight breakfast program, and participated in student/staff sporting events,” Peters said.
One of the nominating letters supporting Harrison said he is “A student-centered president who leads by example, he emulates what he expects of his faculty and staff by keeping students at the heart of every decision he makes as leader of our institution. Under his administration we have seen the creation of a vibrant living-learning community in our residence halls, the creation of a center dedication to student success, and intentionally designed upgrades to our student union, residence halls, dining commons, and more.”
Harrison’s nomination for the President’s Award was also given strong support from Mark Emmert, president of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Harrison is chair of the NCAA’s Committee on Academic Progress and has been a leader of the NCAA's academic reform initiatives over the past decade.
“Under his leadership, changes in initial eligibility standards implemented in 2003 have led to 600 more African-American student-athletes entering college each year, and 500 more African-American graduates each year. Also, as a result of policies that he presided over, more than 11,500 former student athletes have returned to school to get their degree under provisions of the academic reform initiatives by the NCAA. His commitment to student-athlete success both on and off the field has made an incredibly positive impact on the Association specifically and higher education more broadly,” said Emmert.
Since Harrison’s appointment as the University of Hartford's fifth president in 1998, the University has experienced a period of energy and momentum unmatched in its history. President Harrison has overseen dramatic improvements in academic quality, finances, and fundraising.
Harrison, along with five other regional President’s Award winners, will now compete for the national President’s Award, which will be presented at the NASPA national conference in Baltimore in March, 2014.
NASPA is the leading association for the advancement, health, and sustainability of the student affairs profession. It serves a full range of professionals who provide programs, experiences, and services that cultivate student learning and success in concert with the mission of colleges and universities. Established in 1918 and founded in 1919, NASPA is comprised of 13,000 members in all 50 states, 25 countries, and 8 U.S. Territories.