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College Raises Curtain on Harris Center




Photos by Nick Gould

Members of the College community joined President John Fry in the Barshinger Center for Musical Arts Saturday for the dedication of the Patricia E. Harris Center for Business, Government & Public Policy. Fresh off its large-scale renovation, the former home of the Department of Biology now houses the Department of Business, Organizations & Society (BOS), the Department of Government, the Floyd Institute for Public Policy and Information Technology Services.

"Two of our most highly esteemed departments and our most active research institute are now housed in a facility that promotes their collaboration and the creation of new knowledge across disciplinary boundaries," Fry said. "This arrangement reflects the way the world works today, where commerce, politics and policy routinely inform one another, may sometimes work against one another, and on many occasions are inseparable."

The dedication marked a momentous event in the celebration of 40 years of coeducation at Franklin & Marshall. The building is named for Patti Harris '77, the first woman in the history of New York City to serve as first deputy mayor. It is the first academic building named for a Franklin & Marshall alumna.

"It's not about me, or a name on a building," said Harris, a government major at the College. "It's about what goes on inside the building, and inside the minds of students. This is one of the supreme honors of my life. I really want this building to become a center for inspiration and innovation."

The newly renovated building is a significant upgrade for two of the largest departments on campus. Robert Gray, The Honorable and Mrs. John C. Kunkel Professor of Government and chair of the government department, says the spacious work environment benefits students and faculty.

"Our offices are large enough to meet with small groups of students in them, something we could not do in Goethean," Gray says. "There are study areas for students throughout the building, and they are being used during the day, in the evening and on weekends."

Jeff Nesteruk, professor of legal studies and chair of BOS, also enjoys the new surroundings. "New spaces engender new ways of thinking," Nesteruk says. "Like our new major, the Harris Center offers enhanced possibilities for cross-disciplinary conversation, faculty collaboration and richer and more wide-ranging interaction with students."

Harris was committed to the idea of incorporating works of contemporary art?in the building and guided and inspired the selection.?"It may awaken in our students an awareness of the positive impact that high quality art can have on life in an office building," Gray says.

The dedication ceremony included remarks from Trustee Kenneth Duberstein '65, P'09, P'13, who led the fundraising efforts for the building's renovations. Duberstein took the audience back to 1969, providing examples of how far the College and country have come in the last 40 years. Katharine Targett '10 spoke on behalf of the students, noting that the Harris Center enhances creativity and innovative thinking.

Nancy C. Floyd '76, whose gifts to the College established the Floyd Institute, discussed the significance of a liberal arts background in the keynote address.

Following the dedication, Fry invited the crowd to explore the Harris Center for themselves.