Paddling With the President

USD President Harris Kayaking

Proving that he’s not afraid to get his feet wet, on his second day on the job, USD’s new president, Dr. Jim Harris, went out kayaking with students from the university's Outdoor Adventures team.

“It was fantastic,” he raved upon returning to shore from a two-hour outing through the La Jolla Marine Reserve. “It was beautiful out on the water.”

Outdoor Adventures Assistant Director Mark Ceder, who accompanied Harris and the students, says that his office conducts a number of day trips, all of which are meant to give those new to the area an up-close-and-personal look at locations around San Diego.

“Our trips help to build community and educate people. Getting out there gives them a sense of place. For example, this is a great place to go kayaking, but it’s also an ecological preserve.”

The location, just south of La Jolla Shores Beach, contains five distinct marine environments in less than two square miles.

“It’s one of the most unique stretches of coastline in California,” says Ceder. “Sandy beach, rocky shallows, steep cliffs, kelp forests and deep water canyons all come together here.”

Junior Angela Hessenius was excited to have the opportunity to spend time with USD’s new president in such a relaxed, fun manner.

“I feel really fortunate that I got to interact with him like this on just his second day on the job. How many people can say they went kayaking with the president? Experiences like this are what make USD special. He seemed to genuinely enjoy being with us and I look forward to seeing him around campus.”

Since arriving in San Diego a few weeks ago before officially starting his duties, Harris has already become a regular sight walking through campus and Tecolote Canyon every morning. He and his son, Braden — who also joined the students on the water — have done quite a bit of kayaking on Chesapeake Bay, where the family used to vacation regularly.

“I’ve always loved the water,” says Harris. “We used to go out every weekend.” The La Jolla trip was such a hit with everyone involved that Harris and Ceder are seriously considering making outings like this one a regular occurrence.

“We could call it ‘Paddling with the President,’” Harris says. “The truth is, I have a key to the gym, but this is really a lot more fun. Maybe we can do something like this every month.”

— Julene Snyder

During Homecoming and Family Weekend, Outdoor Adventures will lead three kayak outings in La Jolla on Saturday, Oct. 17. To learn more, go to or

Photo courtesy of Chris Park