COLUMBIA, S.C. — Former prominent Nashvillian, Dr. Bennie Harris, will become the first African-American to serve as the Upstate chancellor at South Carolina’s famous flagship university.
As the first African American professor at the University of South Carolina (USC), Richard T. Greener taught philosophy, served as librarian and also helped reorganize and catalogue the library’s collections, which were in disarray following the Civil War. Born in 1844 and a native of Philadelphia, he was the first African American to graduate from Harvard College.
Greener became a professor of mental and moral philosophy at USC, where he also taught Greek, mathematics and constitutional law during the Reconstruction Era, from 1873 – 1877. While at USC, he also attended and graduated from the school of law in 1876. Greener’s tenure at a Southern school as an African American was unheard of, and decades later Dr. Bennie Harris becomes the first African-American Upstate Chancellor.
Dr. Bennie L. Harris who currently serves as Senior Vice President at Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, GA and is responsible for institutional advancement, partnership expansion and external affairs. Harris holds the bachelor of sciences degree in industrial engineering from Mississippi State University, the MBA in strategic marketing from Washington State University and a doctorate of philosophy in educational leadership and marketing from the University of Alabama and the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He has held leadership positions in institutional advancement at Lipscomb University in Nashville, TN, DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois, University of Alabama at Birmingham and Washington State University. Over the course of his advancement career, he has raised more than $346 million. Also, while at Washington State University, he served as the director for the Center for Human Rights. Harris has worked with a number of organizations facilitating conversations and strategic plans around leadership development, diversity, healthcare and health equity.
Dr. Harris is involved in several local and national organizations such as Leadership Atlanta, 100 Black Men of Atlanta, Executive Director of Phi Beta Sigma International Leadership Academy, Atlanta Chapter of the Susan G. Komen Board of Directors, Lipscomb University Board of Trustees, America Association of Medical Colleges Development Council, CASE Faculty, among a few. Harris is frequently sought to speak on fundraising, strategic planning, diversity and leadership development at various nonprofits, higher education and other institution seeking to improve and build capacity.
141 years since USC was founded and and almost as many years as the first African-American was hired, Dr. Bennie Harris, makes history as the first African- American hired as the Upstate chancellor.
He will soon join this prominent institution where on the main campus the student body is almost 75% white and 50% of the 6,000 students at the Spartanburg campus are non-white.