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President Harris Receives Chief Executive Leadership Award

Widener University President James T. Harris III is the recipient of the 2011 Chief Executive Leadership Award for the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) District II.

District II is the largest of CASE’s eight districts, encompassing more than 700 member institutions in Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, West Virginia and Ontario, Canada.

Awarded annually, the Chief Executive Leadership Award recognizes a District II member institution president, chancellor or other campus CEO for outstanding efforts in promoting the understanding and support of education. Nominees must demonstrate the ability to create vision and inspire others; establish a positive image of his/her institution's stature in the community; and encourage innovations and risk-taking among employees.

As president of Widener since 2002, Harris has transformed the university into one of the nation’s leading civic engagement institutions. In the past four years alone, the university launched the first university-based charter school in Pennsylvania, led a collaborative effort of six different colleges and universities to open a college access center for the community, opened a Small Business Development Center, and spearheaded a $50 million economic revitalization development in one of the nation’s most economically challenged cities.

In 2010, Newsweek ranked Widener among the top ten colleges and universities in the nation for civic-minded students. The university has also ranked among the top 100 institutions in the annual Washington Monthly rankings since the magazine’s inaugural college issue in 2005. In addition, Widener was among the first universities in the nation to be categorized as a “community engagement” institution by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching in 2006. Widener has also consistently been named to the annual President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. For the past two years, Widener has also been named by the Chronicle of Higher Education as a Great College to Work For.

 “We have worked very hard at Widener for the past eight years to make the university one of the nation’s premiere civic engagement institutions,” Harris said. “It has truly been a university-wide effort involving administrators, faculty, alumni, donors and students. So, while my name may be on the award from CASE, this recognition is really about the work my colleagues, our community partners and I have done together to advance our mission”  

The award will be presented at the CASE District II Annual Conference on Feb. 6-8 in Baltimore, Md.

Widener University is a private, metropolitan university that connects curricula to social issues through civic engagement. Dynamic teaching, active scholarship, personal attention, and experiential learning are key components of the Widener experience. A comprehensive doctorate-granting university, Widener is comprised of eight schools and colleges that offer liberal arts and sciences, professional and pre-professional curricula leading to associate’s, baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral degrees. The university’s campuses in Chester, Exton, and Harrisburg, Pa., and Wilmington, Del., serve some 6,500 students. Visit the university website,

The Council for Advancement and Support of Education is a professional association serving educational institutions and the advancement professionals who work on their behalf in alumni relations, communications, development, marketing and allied areas. CASE helps its members build stronger relationships with their alumni and donors, raise funds for campus projects, produce recruitment materials, market their institutions to prospective students, diversify the profession, and foster public support of education.

CASE also offers a variety of advancement products and services, provides standards and an ethical framework for the profession, and works with other organizations to respond to public issues of concern while promoting the importance of education worldwide.