Walter Harris, Jr., former Distinguished Professor of Music and provost at Loyola University in New Orleans, passed away after suffering a heart attack on November 21, 2020. He was 73 years old.
A native of Selma, Alabama, Dr. Harris began his career in higher education administration at Knoxville College in Tennessee in 1969, where he spent 11 years in a variety of positions including chair of the department of arts and music, director of choral activities, and director of the Division of Arts and Humanities. He spent the next 20 years at Arizona State University in Tempe, where he held various teaching and administrative positions. While there he rose through the administrative ranks to become assistant vice president of academic affairs and eventually vice provost of academic affairs, a position he held for eight years.
Dr. Harris then served as provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs and professor of music at North Carolina Central University. In 2002, he was appointed senior executive fellow at the University of North Carolina System Office in Chapel Hill.
In 2003, Dr. Harris came to Loyola as provost and vice president for academic affairs and served in that capacity through 2008. He was provost at Loyola when Hurricane Katrina and the levee failures of 2005 devastated the city of New Orleans. He helped lead Loyola as students spent the fall of 2005 at universities across the country. Almost 90 percent of Loyola students returned in spring 2006 to a still-struggling city. He later returned to the music faculty full-time and taught until 2018.
Dr. Harris was an excellent piano player, having accompanied hundreds of professional and amateur singers and instrumentalists in solo recitals and other performances. He taught in the area of music history and had a particular interest in the music of African Americans and its relationship to the music of Africa.
Dr. Harris earned his bachelor’s degree from Knoxville College. He held a master’s degree and a doctorate from Michigan State University.