Jenni Harris serves as Assistant to the Chancellor for Community Partnerships. As the university’s primary liaison to the local, regional and global community, Harris and her team are strengthening UNCW’s position as a national model of community partnership excellence in higher education through the creation of best practices, strategies and protocol for working with communities and businesses. Harris also provides university-wide senior leadership to support and develop UNCW’s various partnerships with community groups, businesses, and agencies.
Since joining the UNCW team in September, 2011, Harris has initiated several key projects:
Business Leaders Summit – Partnering with the city of Wilmington, Harris and the city manager developed a series of in-depth discussions with community and business leaders, led by the Mayor and Chancellor. This ongoing initiative is intended to position the university as the community “thought leader” in economic development and engagement.
UNCW Entrepreneurship Center – Harris led efforts to develop the EC, originally founded within the Cameron School of Business, as its own LLC in January 2012, to become a regional driver for economic development, helping local and regional entrepreneurs develop small companies. Through consultation and programming, the EC has helped raise millions of dollars in capital and created dozens of jobs throughout the region. The EC is still run by UNCW with the Research Foundation’s Board of Directors (all from UNCW) and has an advisory committee made up of regional community and business leaders.
Art for the Masses – Harris was instrumental in bringing this annual regional art show and sale to the UNCW campus, with monies raised going to UNCW’s art department to fund visiting artists. In November of 2012, Art for the Masses featured over 150 local and regional artists and drew a record crowd in its new home.
Opinion Lab – An application and software development company in Chicago, IL, now has access to our business school and computer science faculty as advisory members to their senior staff, and undergrad students in business, CIS, math and statistics and communication studies for research and customer service development. Opinion Lab provides access to their data system for real-world learning in the classroom and for research for graduate students and faculty. They also will be hiring a number of our current grads for full time employment. This is the first of several similar partnerships, designed to spotlight UNCW’s academic resources to partners who in turn offer the university a toehold in emerging fields.
Arts Education Partnership – Harris is leading the creation of an arts integration initiative that has many arms, including working agreements with 133 schools in NC to create arts integration and professional development programs for their teachers and leadership, as well as assess the programs at various stages. Developing year-round visiting faculty programming to enhance the arts integration for k-12 students, UNCW students and the community and leading to a collaboration with businesses and organizations in the region.
Promoting Diversity – The Daniels Distinguished Lecture Series was created to increase diversity scholarships at UNCW, to bring more awareness and acceptance to UNCW’s diversity programming and initiatives, and to promote collaboration among minority professionals in the region through a diversity appreciation series of events. The events have to date included a gospel concert, two art exhibits, daily concerts in the amphitheater during lunch hour, a reading from a novel written by a faculty member, a panel breakfast discussion on diversity in the workplace, a high-level celebrity keynote speaker, a film showing and discussion, and a tour for middle school students in New Hanover County.
“Paint the Town Teal” – This informal program will be an ongoing initiative to generate more Seahawk spirit within the region through retail merchandising, increased community visuals and expanded resident participation in all aspects of university planning and engagement.
Prior to this position, which was created by incoming Chancellor Gary L. Miller in the fall of 2011, Harris worked with the management company contracted by the City of Wilmington to help facilitate the opening of the new convention center in historic downtown Wilmington. As Corporate Sales and Marketing Manager, Harris contracted community events and consumer shows, global conferences and training sessions.
Outside of work, Harris is active in volunteerism with many community non-profits, including chairing numerous non-profit fundraisers for the cultural arts and human services. Harris is an aspiring runner and is married and with two boys, 12 and 9.Related Information:
- BA English Professional and Technical Writing, Minor, Communication Studies Media and Public Relations – UNCW, 1991
- Certificate in Business Administration – UNCW 2009
- Leadership Wilmington Class of 2000
- Member, UNCW Entrepreneurship Center Advisory Board
- Member, Wilmington Convention Center Advisory Council
- Member, New Hanover Commission for Women
- Member, City of Wilmington Vision 2020 Commission