Hood College is a small school and a tight-knit community. We pride ourselves on that, and love that we have members of the community who fill many roles. One such person is Dr. Keith Harris, who has been a student, professor, mentor, supporter, and even the sponsor of an award her at Hood. Outside of the college, he has worked in education for 26 years, including teaching and leadership positions in public school, higher education, and community settings. With such a breadth and depth of experience, he has brought so much to us!
Dr. Harris’ connection to Hood came before he even started here. His wife, Sylvia Freeman-Harris, ’90, sister Lisa Harris-Watts, ’93 and several friends all attended Hood. He came to Hood for his Masters of Science in Educational Leadership because of the quality of the staff. As he explains, “at the time I enrolled, the graduate program was run by two recently retired Maryland Superintendents. If anyone knew what leaders needed to know and be able to do as administrators, these superintendents, both from high performing school districts, would. Several other professors also made learning practical and relevant to the work I would eventually have to do.” Several years after attaining his degree, he returned to Hood as a professor.
Keith also helped develop several of our graduate programs, including the cohort concept for the Educational Leadership program. He describes working to create the cohort – a rigorous, accelerated program for receiving the M.S. or certificate in Educational Leadership – as “one of the highlights” of his career at Hood. He also was one of the original forces working to start our doctoral program. He states that “I recognized that there was no program easily accessible for the many students who would like to have taken advantage of a doctoral program. I also recalled my experience of having to travel to Virginia every week to take my doctoral classes, and travel to different parts of the United States during the summers for three years in order to complete other requirements. Surely, Hood could create as quality a program as many of the other institutions offering degrees throughout Maryland, DC and Virginia. Years later, more conversations were had and other Hood staff took the lead in making this a reality.” Another proud moment for Dr. Harris was in 2014, when he was selected as the Hood College Graduate School Commencement Speaker and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate Degree. He reflects, “anyone with the mental capacity and effort can earn a degree, but not everyone is honored with one. I continue to be humbled by this honor.”
Currently, Dr. Harris works for Frederick County Public Schools as the Executive Director of Accelerating Achievement and Equity, overseeing several departments. He also is an executive and teaching pastor for his church. Due to his professional and community engagements, he is no longer able to teach classes at Hood, but is still a part of our community. He works with doctoral candidates and sponsors the Keith R Harris Outstanding Educational Leadership Award, which is given to a selected graduating student during the graduation ceremonies each year. “I am grateful for the investment Hood has put in me. And as long as I am able, I will continue to return the investment into the students at Hood.”