USC Upstate Celebrates Investiture of Bennie L. Harris, Ph.D., as Fifth Chancellor

April 15, 2022 at 3:06 pm

University of South Carolina Upstate hosted a historic investiture ceremony on Friday morning to officially install its fifth Chancellor, Bennie L. Harris, Ph.D., conferring upon him the honors and regalia of the university.

A nationwide search that included more than 100 applicants led to Dr. Harris’ selection last summer. He brings a transformative value proposition for the university centered on education for all that inspires a thriving and just society.

Hundreds of students, faculty, alumni, staff, donors, other institutions, friends and family attended the investiture ceremony in the G.B. Hodge Center on campus and enjoyed a picnic lunch on the Main Quad. The ceremony began with a processional led by the president of the USC Upstate Student Government Association and included the Spartanburg County Commission on Higher Education and representatives from more than 15 colleges and universities.

Interim President of the University of South Carolina Harris Pastides, Ph.D, presided over the program, which opened with remarks from South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster. The Southern Guards ROTC Battalion presented the colors, and the USC Upstate Gospel Choir performed.

“This is a historic moment in the life of USC Upstate, and in the life of higher education across the state,” said Dr. Pastides. “Dr. Harris has devoted his life to education. He was a first-generation college student, which should encourage many students today at USC Upstate, which is the most diverse public university in South Carolina.”

Mayor Jerome Rice congratulated Dr. Harris on behalf of City Council and residents of Spartanburg. “We are thankful to have his leadership in our community, helping to shape the next generation of Upstate leaders and strengthening the deep partnership between our city and the university,” he said.

Dr. Harris’ brother, Jessie Harris, delivered a personal account of his relationship with his brother and how Dr. Harris exemplifies the tenets their parents instilled in them – hard work, faith and service to others. The university’s First Lady Frankie Harris and their three children, Bria, Bennie II, and Branden shared their sentiments. “He’s here to make a difference, and I can’t wait to Reimagine Upstate with his leadership,” said Mrs. Harris.

President Pastides, USC Board of Trustees Chairman C. Dorn Smith III, M.D., and the Faculty Senate President Lisa Johnson, Ph.D., presented the emblems of office to Dr. Harris. Pledging to guide and guard USC Upstate, Dr. Harris accepted the medallion and chain of office.

“This new chapter in USC Upstate history begins with our bold vision to provide education for all that inspires a thriving and just society,” said Dr. Bennie L. Harris, Chancellor of USC Upstate. “With this moment we have the opportunity to reimagine how we can improve social mobility and elevate the economic well-being and health outcomes for citizens of the Upstate region and the state of South Carolina.”