News and Events
Charles T. "Chuck" Harris III '69 Receives 2012 Founder's Day Award at Phillips Exeter Academy
May 31, 2012
Exeter, NH—On Friday, May 18, Phillips Exeter Academy gave Charles T. "Chuck" Harris III '69 the school's Founder's Day Award, presented annually by the General Alumni/ae Association "in recognition of his exceptional service to the Academy."
General Alumni/ae Association President Sally Jutabha Michaels '82 presented Harris with his award, praising him as an "inspirational ambassador" for Exeter, combining grace and diplomacy with strategic acumen, a strong work ethic and "a determination to understand the essential issues facing the Academy."
Harris began his 10-year career as an Academy trustee in 1999, serving three years as board president. As a trustee, he served on the Investment Committee, the Academy Life Task Force and chaired The Exeter Initiatives, the most ambitious fundraising campaign ever conducted by a secondary school, raising a historic $352 million utilized for Academy buildings and programs. In 2007, Harris was also instrumental in the decision to make Phillips Exeter tuition-free for qualified students whose families earn $75,000 a year or less.
A graduate of Harvard University and MIT's Sloan School of Management, Harris led an exemplary 23-year career with Goldman Sachs as a partner and managing director. In 2002, he retired to apply his energies to social and philanthropic efforts, holding true to a desire he had since his days at MIT. In 2008, Harris co-founded and served for five years as executive partner of SeaChange Capital Partners—an innovative, nonprofit investment firm designed to offer nonprofit organizations opportunities to impact education and youth development. Currently he serves as portfolio manager and director of capital aggregation for the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, advancing opportunities for low-income youths in the U.S.
Growing up in Salisbury, NC, he didn't know of the Academy until family friends prompted him to apply to both Phillips Exeter Academy (PEA) and Phillips Academy (Andover). When PEA offered a scholarship, he eagerly embraced the educational experience. Looking back, Harris says, "Everything I am is a result of that experience."
Harris arrived at PEA in 1965, the recipient of an endowed scholarship fund established by a fellow North Carolinian, Romeo Guest '25. "Though I never met Mr. Guest, the notion that a stranger felt strongly enough to make such an opportunity a perpetual reality on this campus—that notion stuck with me," Harris says.
In return, he has given generously of his time, energies and resources in order to make similar opportunities available to young people at Exeter and throughout the country. In accepting this year's Founder's Day Award, Harris emphasized the need to support education for all students, regardless of social and economic background.
"I realize that for all young people . . . there are exciting opportunities that lurk just beyond one's grasp, often just beyond one's imagination," Harris said. "Helping to provide such opportunities at whatever scale and in whatever setting—as parents, teachers, coaches, employers, philanthropists—is the most rewarding work possible."
During the morning assembly, Michaels said, "Chuck, for you, the large-scale challenges of governing the Academy or leading a major campaign have been human and personal. Your work has been an anthem and a promise to each student here today, along with those of the future. Believing there is 'an Exeter for everyone,' you are striving to bring transformative education to every young person within your reach—here at Exeter and beyond. In this work, you embody non sibi, and we are proud to honor you with this 2012 Founder's Day Award."
The Founder's Day Award is given to an alumnus, alumna, faculty emeritus, emerita, retired staff member, parent or friend who has demonstrated exceptional and sustained service to the Academy.
For further information, contact Harold Brown Jr. '74, director of Alumni/ae and Parent Relations, at 603-777-3353. For other events, you may visit the Academy's community calendar, contact the Phillips Exeter Academy public events line at 603-777-4309, or visit the Academy website at Phillips Exeter Academy. For directions to Phillips Exeter Academy, call 603-777-4330.