Michael A. Harris, a former college football player with more than a decade of experience in the field of academic support services for student-athletes, has been appointed director of Boston College’s Learning Resources for Student-Athletes.
Harris, who will formally join the University on Feb. 26, succeeds Associate Vice Provost for Undergraduate Academic Affairs J. Joseph Burns, the LRSA interim director.
LRSA provides individualized academic support services to all BC’s nearly 700 varsity student-athletes. Its staff members offer academic counseling and advising, content tutoring, developmental instruction, progress monitoring, services for students with learning disabilities, and a supervised study center.
Since August of 2016, Harris has been associate director and director of the football academic unit for his alma mater, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. His duties included overseeing development and implementation of individualized academic support plans, supervising six academic and assistant academic counselors, meeting weekly with football coaches and ensuring compliance with UNC, ACC and NCAA policies.
“I am thrilled that Michael will be joining BC as the next director of the LRSA,” said Vice Provost for Undergraduate Academic Affairs Akua Sarr. “He has over a decade of experience working in Division 1 athletic administration in the areas of academic support and student development. I’m confident that he will make a positive impact on the experience of our student-athletes while helping them prepare for life after BC.”
“I was drawn to the position due to the alignment between the Athletic Department and the academic community at Boston College,” said Harris, a native of Durham, NC. “[Athletics Director] Martin Jarmond’s passion, energy and vision have really invigorated the Athletic Department and there is a lot of excitement around BC Athletics.
“At BC, academic and athletic excellence is a tradition. Student-athletes are exceptionally well rounded and they excel in the classroom and beyond. The student-athlete experience at BC goes beyond the classroom and the fields of competition. Holistic development and preparation for life after athletics are institutional values.”
Harris added: “The time demands of a 21st-century student-athlete are significant, and our greatest challenge in providing quality academic support. As a result, it is important that we have alignment between Athletics, LRSA and campus student support units, so student-athletes can get the most out of their college experience.”
Prior to UNC, Harris was assistant athletic director for academic services and career development at the University of Maryland from 2011-16. He also was an academic advisor (and served as interim assistant athletic director/director for academic achievement) at Towson University and assistant director of academic support services for student-athletes at Western Carolina University.
After joining the UNC football team as a walk-on in his freshman year, Harris went on to letter for three seasons and earn a scholarship, and as a senior served on the Team Leadership Panel. Harris said the experience of being a student-athlete himself was integral to his career path choice.
“At UNC, I interacted with individuals like Dr. Janice Hilliard, who inspired me to want to utilize education and athletics to make a positive impact on the world,” he explained. “As an academic support professional, she ensured that we had the academic resources and support needed to navigate the institution, but more importantly, she surrounded us with life coaches and positive mentors to assist us with navigating life and understanding our purpose beyond athletics.
“As academic support professionals, we have the ability make far-reaching impacts on the world around us by making a positive impact on the lives of the student-athletes we encounter.”
Sean Smith | University Communications