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Dean Daire appointed to Ruth Harris Professorship

Appointment elevates Ruth Harris' commitment to the highest level of the school, honors her vision.

Headshot of Dr. Andrew Daire, dean of the VCU School of Education. [View Image] [View Image]Dean Andrew Daire, Ph.D.

The Ruth Harris Fellowship was established in 2007 by Dr. and Mrs. Louis Harris for the VCU School of Education. The endowment was established with an initial gift of $100,000 with the goal of elevating the Fellowship to a Professorship in the future by building the fund to $250,000. The fund quickly surpassed this milestone, and the endowment was formally renamed the Ruth Harris Professorship in 2010. Dr. Paul Gerber was named the Ruth Harris Professor and he retired in 2016.

Chuck Harris, the only child of the late Dr. and Mrs. Harris, now represents the family foundation. This past March, he shared his desire to come up with a plan to chart the future of the Harris endowment while respecting the original intentions of the gift. From this meeting, Mr. Harris – with input from the family foundation's board – relayed the following preferences, which guided our actions.

The dean of the VCU School of Education will hold the Ruth Harris Professorship. This appointment elevates Ruth’s commitment to the highest leadership level of the School, honors her vision, and brings a renewed emphasis and attention to the field of language learning/reading disabilities with a focus on dyslexia.

The dean will ensure that funds from the endowment are used to:

  • Recruit and support a Ph.D.-level graduate assistant (GA) with a research focus and practice interest in dyslexia or other language learning/reading disabilities;
  • Identify a collaborating faculty member from an appropriate department in our School; and
  • Develop and coordinate (GA) no fewer than one professional development program annually for educators in the community, one for parents and/or schoolchildren with language learning/reading disabilities, as well as continuing the annual Ruth Harris Lecture Series.

The Harris family foundation’s board approved this new direction in late spring 2020. This fall, a committee was also formed within the School of Education to evaluate our endowed professorships. The committee, consisting of members from each department and the executive director of the Office of Development, Alumni and Student Engagement, met this year to evaluate the fit between the Harris Professorship donor's wishes and the nominee, Dean Daire. This committee along with the university’s endowment committee, supported Dean Daire receiving this professorship.

As a result, President Rao announced on October 9th that Dean Andrew Daire, Ph.D., had been appointed to the Ruth Harris Professorship. As referenced earlier, this professorship does not come with any additional salary monies or compensation, but it does include the hourly doctoral GA to assist with implementing initiatives important to the foundation.

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