Dr. James T. Harris III, president of the University of San Diego.
Dr. James T. Harris III, president of the University of San Diego.

The University of San Diego announced Friday that Dr. James T. Harris III will become the Catholic university’s fourth president, succeeding Dr. Mary E. Lyons.

Harris, who is currently president of Widener University in Chester, PA, outside of Philadelphia, will join the San Diego institution on Aug. 1. Lyons is retiring after 12 years as president.

“Dr. Harris is ideally suited to build upon the impressive progress witnessed at USD under the leadership of President Lyons,” said Ron Fowler, chairman of the university’s board of directors. “He is a compassionate, Catholic, servant leader with extensive experience leading a comprehensive, liberal arts based institution, with a particular commitment to student development and engagement in the community.”

Since Harris joined Widener in 2002, that university has grown to more than 6,300 students on four campuses in two states – Pennsylvania and Delaware.

Harris said he was attracted to USD because of “its commitment to providing a rigorous learning environment where faith and reason are compatible and students are encouraged to become change makers.”

He will become the university’s fourth president since the 1972 merger of the San Diego College for Women and the University of San Diego College for Men and School of Law.

Harris received his doctorate in education from Pennsylvania State University. He and his wife, Mary, have two adult sons.

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.