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Defiance College Recognizes USD President Harris, Mrs. Harris with McMaster Award

Current USD President James Harris, far right, received the Harold A. McMaster Life Is Action Award from Defiance College in Ohio. Harris is Defiance College's former president.Current USD President James Harris, far right, received the Harold A. McMaster Life Is Action Award from Defiance College in Ohio. Harris is Defiance College's former president.

University of San Diego President James Harris, DEd, and his wife, Mary, were recognized with the Harold A. McMaster Life Is Action Award during a celebration marking the 15th anniversary of the McMaster School for Advancing Humanity at Defiance College in Ohio on Oct. 20.

Dr. Harris was president of Defiance College in 2002 when Harold and Helen McMaster made the largest contribution in the history of the college. A $6 million gift created the McMaster School for Advancing Humanity allowed Defiance students and faculty to use scholarship to improve the human condition around the world. It has become a signature program of Defiance College and is recognized as a national model in higher education for global engagement.

The Life Is Action Award is based on a life creed that McMaster wrote in 1944 at the age of 28. These beliefs guided his actions throughout his life and formed the vision for the work of the McMaster School for Advancing Humanity.  

In presenting the Life Is Action Award, McMaster Dean Mary Ann Studer noted Dr. Harris’s “integral role in creating the McMaster School for Advancing Humanity … as well as his continued work to improve the human condition through education.”

She also recognized Mary Harris for her support of the McMaster School “and her continued work to inspire responsible citizenship, a commitment to faith, and efforts to improve the human condition.”

Since inception of the McMaster School for Advancing Humanity, more than 250 Defiance College students, faculty and staff have worked together with communities around the world as well as here at home, impacting the lives of thousands of individuals. Their goal has been to effectively couple their research with the context, local wisdom and expertise to not only examine the root causes of human suffering but to collaboratively move toward solutions.

One of the central parts of the McMaster School model that has evolved is a multi-year effort of teams of students, faculty and staff returning to build on the foundation of previous work and allowing community initiative and direction to occur at their own pace.

Their efforts over time have resulted in new energy sources, better healthcare, improved access to clean water, improved teaching resources and methods, and support by government and NGO initiatives that previously would have written off these marginal communities. It is estimated that at least 27,000 individuals across the globe have been directly impacted by the work of the McMaster School.

Harold McMaster, who died in 2003, was a prolific physicist and inventor, holding more than 100 patents dealing with glass bending and tempering, solar energy and rotary engines.

Photos courtesy of Defiance College

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