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Trish Harris

Trish Harris

(TRISH HAA-riss)

Senior Director of Education, Operations and Initiatives

Trish entered the realm of higher education in 2004 with a focus on college access, admission, and recruitment and a commitment to equity, college access, and improving outcomes for students. She has held positions at Dutchess Community College, Marist College, Bard College, The University of Georgia, Clayton State University, and Duke University. Her work highlights cultivating strategic partnerships to create innovative solutions and structural change. She brings extensive leadership in the development and assessment of programming.

A self-proclaimed “professional troublemaker” whose core values include authenticity, competence, service, and humor, Trish possesses a breadth of knowledge and experience that has enabled her to contribute to strategic priorities outlined in the most recent strategic plan. Her work centers on understanding the educational context, innovation, and the use of rigorous data-driven analytics that result in real solutions to real problems.

Most recently, Trish served as the inaugural director of recruitment for the UNC School of Education. She provided broad leadership and management of student recruitment, admissions, student engagement, and co- and extra-curricular programs for students. She also supported the school’s diversity initiatives, offering guidance on related legislation and best practices to promote the unit’s vision. For the past five years, she catalyzed change and has been a strong advocate for implementing equitable practices and policies designed to accommodate differences in learning and working contexts, particularly in light of historical factors of disadvantage and marginalization.

From 2018-to 2021, Trish served as the vice-chair of the Carolina Black Caucus (CBC) and is a current member of the University DEI Council. In addition, she has spearheaded initiatives that buoy efforts to recruit, retain, professionally develop, and boost the cultural competency of faculty and staff members.

She has earned multiple awards and accolades throughout her career, including two “Forty Under 40” recognitions (Greater Southern Dutchess Chamber of Commerce, 2010 and Triangle Business Journal, 2019), Leader in Diversity (Triangle Business Journal, 2018), Black History Month Honoree (NC Education Lottery), Robert E. Bryan Service Award (Carolina Center for Public Service), the Staff Diversity Award (University Office for Diversity and Inclusion, 2020) and the Rebecca Clark Staff Award for Moral Courage (Employee Forum, 2021). She is a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and was honored in 2010 with the “Outstanding Member” education award.

Trish is a proud Georgia native and first-generation college student. She earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Savannah State University and a master’s degree in counseling from Argosy University. In 2019, Trish completed the Women in Education certificate program at Harvard University. She is currently pursuing a Doctorate in higher education management from the University of Georgia, where she studied comparative higher education in Europe and China.

Get to Know Trish

Name your favorite podcasts.

“The Homecoming” with Dr. Thema and “Professional Troublemaker” with Luvvie Ajayi Jones.

Best perk of the job?

Working in higher education offers a bevy of unique benefits and opportunities. I love the energy and spontaneity of being on a college campus. But most important, it allows me to live out my purpose and be part of something that is greater than myself. I have the opportunity to engage, connect and learn from students, faculty, staff and community members who are changing the world in their own way. It brings me joy to be a part of their journey.

In an alternate universe, what would you do for a living?

I would be a wealthy philanthropist and dedicate my resources and time to supporting HBCUs and programs that promote the social and economic mobility of families from low-income and rural areas.

Name three things that people would be most surprised to learn about you.

I am country and cultured. I’ve climbed the Great Wall of China, danced on the beach in Jerusalem (West Bank), and I have citizenship in Barbados but I’m originally from Gay, GA (population 110).

What's on your bucket list?

My goal is to visit all of the seven new wonders of the world. I would also like to travel to Ghana to see “The Door of No Return.” Also, I am a comedian in my head. Therefore, I would like to perform stand-up (amateur night, of course) at a random comedy club in New York City.

Whom do you admire...and why?

I admire people who choose courage even in the moments when they are afraid. Those who dare to be audacious, those who dwell in their dopeness, and those who live freely and authentically.