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Prof. Nigel E. Harris
PROF. NIGEL E. HARRIS, Chancellor of the University of Guyana
Professor Eon Nigel Harris has recently demitted office as Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies (UWI), a position he held from October 1, 2004 to April 30, 2015 –on his retirement, he was named Vice Chancellor Emeritus. Prior to joining the UWI, he was Dean and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia from 1996 to 2004. He was previously a faculty member at the University of Louisville, in Kentucky (1987 -1996) where he rose to the rank of Professor of Medicine and Chief of the Division of Rheumatology.
While he was Vice Chancellor of UWI, he held many other leadership posts. He served as Chairman of the Caribbean Examination Council, (CXC) (2006-2014). He was elected Chairman of the Association of Commonwealth Universities for a 2 year term (2011-2013) after serving on the administrative board and executive committee for 4 years (this is a Consortium of 530 universities in the Commonwealth). He is a current member of the Administrative Board of the International Association of Universities (IAU), a consortium of more than 600 universities. He has served as President of the Association of Caribbean Universities and Research Institutes (UNICA) from 2012 to 2015. While Dean at the Morehouse School of Medicine, Professor Harris had a number of leadership roles including executive membership on the Committee of Deans of Association of American Medical Colleges(AAMC)
He is internationally known for his work as a Rheumatologist. With Doctors Aziz Gharavi and Graham Hughes in London, he helped to define a disorder which they called the Antiphospholipid Syndrome and devised a diagnostic test (the anticardiolipin test) for it. For this work he shared with Dr Graham Hughes, Dr Aziz Gharavi and others, the Ciba-Geigy Prize awarded by the International League Against Rheumatism (ILAR) in 1990. He has published over 150 papers, editorials, reviews and chapters on this subject and these have been cited in several thousand publications. In 1987, he launched the Anti-phospholipid Standardisation Laboratory which led to worldwide efforts to standardise the anti-cardiolipin test and he developed standards for the test that are often referred to as the “Harris Standards”. For his contributions to the field of Rheumatology, he was made a Master of the American College of Rheumatology in October 2014.
While Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies, he has focused on programmes that will enhance contributions of UWI to Caribbean Governments; strengthen services of the University to its stakeholders; broaden funding; and enhance alumni relations and marketing. A particular area of interest has been re-structuring the UWI presence in the 12 Caribbean countries that contribute to UWI but have no campuses (he referred to them as the “UWI-12”). This led to the creation of a fourth UWI campus, designated the “Open Campus” which is designed primarily to deliver education by distance to students in all 16 contributing countries. During his tenure the Regional University’s enrolment grew from about 24,000 to in excess of 47,000 students, the facilities in the 4 campuses expanded by more than 500,000 sq. ft. and two new countries – Bermuda and the Turks and Caicos - joined the UWI consortium.
He has received many honours and awards, including the Centennial Award for contributions to Medicine from the National Medical Association of America (USA) in 1995; The Howard University Distinguished Alumni Award for medical research and education (2009); the Martin Luther King International Award received in Washington DC in 2010 and the Caribbean Health Research Council Award (2011) for contributions to medical research. The country of his birth, Guyana, awarded him the Cacique Crown of Honour in 2011. In 2013, he received the Order of Merit Jose Joaquin Gomez award from the University of Cartagena (Colombia) and in September 2013, an honorary Doctor of Law Degree from the University of St Andrews (Scotland) on the occasion of its 600th anniversary. The 11th Congressional District of the USA declared February 11, 2015, the “Eon Nigel Harris Day” in recognition of his contributions to Medical Research.
Professor Harris graduated with a B.S. degree in chemistry - magna cum laude, high honours in chemistry, Phi Beta Kappa from Howard University (1968) and proceeded on a fellowship to Yale University, where he received a Master of Philosophy degree in Biochemistry (1973). He earned his medical degree (with alpha omega alpha honours) from the University of Pennsylvania (1977). He then returned to the Caribbean where he completed his residency in internal medicine at the University of the West Indies at Mona and was awarded the post-graduate degree, Doctor of Medicine (DM) in 1981. On completion of his DM degree, he went to the Hammersmith Hospital in London where he did a fellowship in Rheumatology (1983-85) and then served as Deputy Director of the Lupus Research Laboratory in the Rayne Institute at St Thomas’ Hospital, London, England (it was in London that Professor Harris did critical work with Drs Graham Hughes and Aziz Gharavi to define the Antiphospholipid Syndrome)
He is married to Dr C. Yvette Williams-Harris, a general internist and they have three children and five grandchildren.