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President Harris Engages Community at Fireside Chat

Fireside Chat

University of San Diego President James T. Harris engaged in conversation with students, faculty, staff and alumni Tuesday during the inaugural Fireside Chat held in front of the Torero Store near the fire pit patio area.

From 1 to 2 p.m., held during the traditional 12-2 p.m. “dead hours” for all USD students — a popular time for lunch, club meetings and assorted campus programming — community members had an opportunity to speak with President Harris, who has been in his role since Aug. 3, 2015.

The event, which is scheduled to happen twice a semester, afforded many the opportunity to enjoy a casual conversation with Harris and other top administrators while sipping on a cup of lemonade and snacking on dessert items courtesy of USD Dining Services. Also in attendance were Ky Snyder, vice president for athletics and facilities management, and Terry Kalfayan, CPA, vice president of finance and chief financial officer.

Many viewed Tuesday’s event as a chance to meet Harris for the first time, but it was clear on a sunny and warm San Diego day that he enjoyed meeting, listening and hearing how campus community members are doing early in the spring semester.

First-year student Gage Murphy, a newly declared business administration major, is a member of the NROTC San Diego program on campus. He said the Fireside event was a great opportunity to meet the new president. He spoke with Harris for a few minutes and came away impressed.

Harris learned about students’ research projects, what they are studying, met two University Ministry staff members who are USD alumni and was also given a sushi restaurant recommendation from a student when he visits Seattle, which is an April stop on the upcoming Torero Tour.

Near the end of the hour, Derek Abbey, USD’s Veteran Student Services Coordinator and a current PhD student in the School of Leadership and Education Sciences, spoke with Harris and presented him with a special “Challenge” coin that Abbey has presented to various members of the USD community for their support of military veteran students.

The next scheduled Fireside Chat is April 19 from 2 to 3 p.m.

— Ryan T. Blystone