‘Time for me to take flight’: Director of Lonnie B. Harris Black Cultural Center departs OSU


Sam Misa, Photographer

Terrance Harris, who has served as the director of the Lonnie B. Harris Black Cultural Center for over six years, sits outside the BCC on April 6. Harris’s last day at OSU will be April 15.

Sam Misa, News Contributor

After having been with Oregon State University for the past six and a half years, Terrance Harris, director of the Lonnie B. Harris Black Cultural Center, is leaving for Drexel University.

Located in Philadelphia, Pa., Harris is set to be the inaugural director for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for Drexel University’s College of Engineering. 

According to Harris, applying for the position was stressful as he was also planning programming for Black History Month at OSU.

“I had two other institutions that were also looking at me,” Harris said. “For me, I had an experience where there was a season in my life where I was rejected so much from different schools.” 

Harris said the sudden interest from the different institutions caused him to pause and think about whether or not it was the right time to leave OSU.

“After some negotiation, some thought and some counsel from my mentors, I said, this must be my plane, it’s time to take off,” Harris said. 

Harris said he is blessed and fortunate for the opportunities he had at OSU, though it was never going to be the final destination for his career. He said he did not choose Philadelphia, Philly chose him.

“I miss being in the city,” Harris said. “I’m from the southeast, so I just miss being near my family and friends and this is a great opportunity.”

Among those that Harris will be leaving behind are students Arthur Franklyn Bikele and Sylvester Omondi. Omondi is also the International and Cultural Advocacy coordinator for the Associated Students of OSU. 

“He was more like guidance and a parent to us,” Omondi said. “With him leaving, I’m happy and at the same time I’m sad, because I know we’re losing a really great resource.”

Harris said he believes whoever replaces him after he leaves should have the same energy as him in addition to having southern ties. 

“I think it’s just the essence of the community and the culture, that you need that person that can drive and push that,” Harris said. 

For Bikele, he said he wants Harris’s replacement to be as genuine and caring as Harris. According to Bikele, Harris knows about what everybody is doing. 

“He knows your major,” Bikele said. “He knows things that make you feel like he’s actually caring about you like, ‘Oh, hey, how was your class? How did your midterm go? How did your final go?’”

Harris is set to end his work as director of the BCC on April 15. His going away party was three days prior on April 12. 

“It’s bittersweet to say the least, but it’s just a moment for me to grow and to fly,” Harris said. “That’s what we tell our students: Spread your wings and fly and see what opportunities are out there. It’s time for me to take flight.”

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