Ramon Harris Receives Jack Barden Award

Aug 15th, 2002 | By | Category: 14-1: Honoring Our Students, Tribal College News

During the year following his death, colleagues of the late Dr. Jack Barden have assured that his memory will live for decades to come. In February the first Jack Barden leadership award was presented to Ramon Harris. In May, United Tribes Technical College (UTTC) dedicated the Jack Barden Student Life and Technology Center. A 30-year veteran of the tribal college movement, Barden died suddenly in May 2001 (see TCJ, Vol. 13, N.1).

Barden had worked extensively with the African American, Hispanic, and Indian communities served by the Advanced Networking Project with Minority Serving Institutions (AN-MSI). Harris leads the Historically Black College and University (HBCU) portion of the AN-MSI project. He was chosen by the AN-MSI because of his leadership, including heading up the strategic planning process.

In his acceptance speech at the meeting in Puerto Rico, Harris said, “Jack epitomized an honest, challenging, and straightforward approach in ensuring that the underserved are represented and opportunities are provided for their inclusion. In accepting this honor, I will strive to continue to demonstrate those same characteristics, not for the benefit of any particular community but for all of our communities. During the past 30 months, we have learned to focus on our similarities and to leverage those similarities for the common good of Hispanic Serving Institutions, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and Tribal Colleges and Universities.

“However, Jack would ask, have we really accomplished what we set out to achieve? I suggest, he would say, as he left for a smoke, we still have a long way to go. Let’s challenge one another, as well as others during the next 18 months, to achieve our initial goals and objectives that are outlined in our AN-MSI Strategic Plan. That will honor Jack!”

The new building at UTTC in Bismarck, ND, was named for Barden partially because his assessment work found that such a building would help with student retention and because he started the work to fund it. The new center has a canteen, bookstore, student lounge, peer tutoring rooms, technology training classrooms, Internet cubicles, and an early childhood learning area. Funding the center were the U.S. Department of Education-Title III, the Economic Development Administration, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development program. His widow, Jean Katus, spoke at the ceremony and said her husband would be “humbled and maybe embarrassed” by being the center of attention.

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