Dr. Harris receives MAS Lifetime Achievement Award

Holmes Community College Department of Mathematics and Computer Science Associate Chair and Computer Science Instructor Dr. Robert Harris recently received the Horizon Lifetime Achievement Award from the Board of Directors of the Mississippi Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Harris, who has been at Holmes for 32 years, holds three degrees from Mississippi State University: a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, a Master of Arts in Teaching in Community College Education and a Doctor of Philosophy in Community College Leadership. A few of his honors and accolades include: HEADWAE Faculty Honoree in 2004, Lamplighter Educator in 1996 and NISOD Excellence Award in 1995.

He taught as an adjunct instructor at MSU for one year and has held a number of positions at Holmes, including his most recent roles as director of placement testing, computer science instructor and associate chair for the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science. He is set to retire at the end of this school year.

Dr. Harris has also served as president and secretary of the Faculty Association, advisor for Phi Theta Kappa and as associate director for the Miss Holmes CC Pageant. He's a member of the Association for Computing Machinery, the Mississippi Academy of Sciences, Phi Theta Kappa, the Mississippi Faculty Association for Community and Junior Colleges and the Mississippi Retired Public Employees Association.

"I was just so honored to have even been nominated for the Horizon Lifetime Achievement Award by the MS Academy of Sciences, but to be presented the award at their 82nd Annual Meeting was a highlight of my educational career," Dr. Harris said. "It was so very humbling to be honored in such a way by one's peers from an organization of such high caliber."

The MS Academy of Sciences is one of the most active of its type in the United States and has existed for over 80 years in recognizing excellence covering thirteen areas of mathematics, sciences, and the social sciences. "These are our state's leading researchers and academicians, and to be held in such esteem and be recognized for one's life work is a feeling that is hard to put into words," said Harris.

What made the award even more special was the fact he was presented the award by one of his former students, Dr. Ken Butler, who according to Harris, "has gone on to be one of the state's leading scientists in dealing with issues of the aging brain and who is Associate Professor and ARIC Study Project Director within the Division of Geriatrics and working with the MIND Center at UMMC."

"To have had a small part in preparing him for his future career while he was still working early on in his undergraduate education gives me great satisfaction that myself, along with the other wonderful instructors at Holmes, saw his great potential and aided in its development," Harris said of Butler, who took FORTRAN programming under Dr. Harris. "To now have him as a friend and colleague and to be honored by his presentation of the award to me is very overwhelming especially since he is the acting President of the MS Academy of Sciences.

"Now that I am about to retire after 32 years of service at Holmes, I am able to look back at my educational career from a different perspective and see how many wonderful students, faculty, and staff with whom I have come into contact."

According to Dr. Harris' nomination letter from the MAS, "The board viewed your service to teaching computer science with distinction in a number of capacities including length of service in a science or mathematics discipline, significant service in an underserved or disadvantaged area of the state, and an outstanding reputation as an educator among students and peers, as well as, in recognition of a long history of excellence in teaching, communication, professionalism, high expectations of students, and leadership."

"At the end of one's career, who could possibly ask for a better vote of confidence for a life's work than that," said Dr. Harris.

He hails from both Jackson and Crystal Springs, and his hobbies include spending time with family and friends, attending flea markets/antiquing, judging Miss Mississippi preliminaries and playing tennis.