By Candace Davis
"Excellent, aggressive and motivating" are words that describe the 122nd Hampton University Founder's Day keynote speaker, alumni and Attorney Paul Clinton Harris, said his peer and classmate Dorothy Barnes, a 1986 graduate and Hampton resident.
Harris's first moments at Hampton made him feel overawed. "I showed up on campus with a blue pickup truck with red mud splashed all over it," he told the Daily Press of Newport News in 1997. But it didn't take long for the Virginia native to take Hampton University by the horns. In 1986, he finished his undergraduate career with a B.A. in political science, ranked as second lieutenant of the U.S. Army, presided as Student Government Association president and became a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated.
Barnes, Harris's PMS Secretary, said, "Paul had great leadership during his whole college career."
These leadership skills and the life motto of "Thy will be done" generated a prosperous political career for Harris. After law school at George Washington University where he received his Juris Doctorate, Harris became the first African-American Republican elected to the Virginia legislature and served two terms in the Virginia House of Delegates.
In 1998, Harris served on the 19-member Federal Advisory Commission on Electronic Commerce. He resigned his seat in the Virginia legislature to become the Deputy Associate U.S. Attorney General under President George W. Bush. Harris is one of the five senior Justice Department lawyers who wrote the regulations for the Sept. 11, 2001 Victim Compensation Program.
Justice Harrison, fellow member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and sophomore biology major, admires his fraternity brother: "its men like Paul Harris, and men of such influence, is why I am a member of Alpha Phi Alpha and hope to be as great of a man one day. I look forward to his address."
In 2006, Harris received Hampton University's Distinguished 20-year Alumnus Award and he is a newly appointed member of the University's Board of Trustees. Harris now serves as Corporate Counsel at Northrop Grumman Corporation. He is responsible for managing all international legal and regulatory risk management in Australia, Europe, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and Japan.
On Sunday, Harris will give the Founders Day address at 11:30 am at Ogden Hall. Founders Day activities will include the commemorative wreath placing ceremony at the gravesite of the University founder, Gen. Samuel Chapman Armstrong, at the Hampton University Cemetery at 9:30.
Jerome Barber, pastor of Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Temple, Molly Joseph Ward, Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources, and HU alumna, Dr. Gladys Hope Franklin White will receive 2015 Presidential Citizenship Awards.
The writer is a student in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications.