Chuck Harris '69 Receives 2012 Founder's Day Award
Monday, May 21, 2012
Charles T. "Chuck" Harris III '69, former president of the Exeter Trustees and chair of The Exeter Initiatives campaign (2004-09), received the 2012 Founder's Day Award last Friday in recognition of his exceptional service to the Academy.
In presenting the award, General Alumni/ae Association President Sally Jutabha Michaels '82; P'12, P'14 praised Harris as an "inspirational ambassador" for Exeter who combined grace and diplomacy with strategic acumen, a strong work ethic and "a determination to understand the essential issues facing the Academy."
In addition to filling various roles for his class, Harris served as an Academy trustee for 10 years (1999-2009), including three as president of the board. He was instrumental in Exeter's 2007 decision to make the school tuition-free for qualified students whose families earn $75,000 a year or less. He also chaired The Exeter Initiatives, which raised over $352 million for key school priorities and stands as the most successful fundraising campaign ever conducted by a secondary school.
Addressing a special assembly, Harris thanked family members and friends who supported his volunteer efforts and expressed gratitude for his experience at the Academy as a student and alumnus.
"I will be forever grateful for the shift in life trajectory and outlook that began for me here and has been nurtured by the ongoing opportunity to serve this school," he told the audience, which included current and former Academy trustees, faculty and staff members, the entire student body, and several hundred alumni/ae who watched the event live online.
Harris arrived at Exeter as a prep in 1965, the beneficiary of an endowed scholarship fund established by a fellow North Carolinian, Romeo Guest '25.
"Though I never met Mr. Guest, the notion that a stranger felt strongly enough to make such an opportunity a perpetual reality on this campus—that notion stuck with me," Harris said.
Harris, in turn, has given generously of his own time, energy and resources in order to make similar opportunities available to young people at Exeter and throughout the country.
A graduate of Harvard University and MIT's Sloan School of Management, Harris spent 23 years at Goldman Sachs before retiring in 2002 to pursue his philanthropic interests. He currently serves as portfolio manager and director of capital aggregation for the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, which advances opportunities for low-income youth in the United States.
In accepting the award, Harris emphasized the need to support education for all students, regardless of social or economic background.
"I now realize that for all young people…there are exciting opportunities that lurk just beyond one's grasp, often just beyond one's imagination," Harris said. "Helping to provide such opportunities at whatever scale and in whatever setting—as parents, teaachers, coaches, employers, philanthropists—is the most rewarding work possible."
About the Founder's Day Award:
Since its creation in 1976, the Founder's Day Award has recognized 84 people who have demonstrated exceptional service to the Academy. In order to receive the award, the service rendered must be extraordinary—beyond what is regularly contributed by others doing similar service—and the nominee must still be living at the time of nomination. View past recipients and find out more information about the Founder's Day Award.