The Thomas Jay Harris Institute for Hispanic and International Communication was established in 2006. Dr. Jerry Hudson, former Dean of the College of Media & Communication, raised donor funds that were matched by the university. Dr. Kenton T. Wilkinson became the Institute's first director in 2006. Since then, faculty and students affiliated with the Institute have pursued teaching, research and community engagement activities focused on Hispanic-oriented and international communication. Those efforts received a substantial boost in 2013 when the Institute received a gift from the estate of Thomas Jay Harris, a former editor of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, who advocated international and cross-cultural education.
Brief Biography of Thomas Jay Harris
Thomas Jay Harris was born in Stephenville, Texas on May 21, 1918. Shortly thereafter
his family moved to Lubbock. Jay Harris, as he came to be known, began working at
newspapers while still a middle school and high school student, and he was awarded
a scholarship to study journalism at Texas Technical College, now Texas Tech University.
Jay Harris’s interest in international issues was sparked during his college years when he and a few friends traveled to Mexico and experienced a different culture, first hand, for the first time.
His career as a sports writer for the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal (A-J) started before Harris graduated in 1938; shortly after graduation he became sports editor, eventually moving to the news department. When World War II broke out, Harris served as a journalist for the Air Force.
At the war’s conclusion, Harris returned to Lubbock to work as a sports reporter for the A-J, and then as the managing editor of the morning edition. In 1972 he became editor of the Avalanche-Journal and held that position until 1994, when he retired and was named editor emeritus.
Harris traveled the world reporting on international affairs for the A-J, often accompanied by his wife, Laura Louise Harris, who was also very interested in world affairs. According to the Center for Global Understanding, “It became Jay's passion to communicate the diversity and wonder of the world to the people of the South Plains.” Along with former Texas State Senator and Texas Tech Chancellor John T. Montford, Jay Harris secured funding from donors as well as the Texas Legislature to build the Texas Tech International Cultural Center on campus. Jay Harris was also an active member of the Rotary Club and a strong supporter of Lubbock’s development.
Thomas Jay Harris died on February 26, 2006 following complications related to surgery. He was 87 years old.
Around the time of his retirement someone asked Jay Harris, "What do you want to be remembered for?" He responded, "I want to be remembered as someone who made a difference."
The affiliated faculty and students of the Thomas Jay Harris Institute for Hispanic and International Communication will strive to fulfill Mr. Harris’s wishes.
Thomas Jay Harris
Photo courtesy: LubbockOnline
Thomas Jay Harris Press Conference
On September 4, 2013 Texas Tech University hosted a press conference to announce the renaming of both the Institute for Hispanic and International Communication and the Regent's Professorship in Hispanic and International Communication in recognition of a generous gift from the estate of Thomas Jay Harris, a Texas Tech graduate and former editor of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Mr. Harris was a strong advocate of international education and cross-cultural learning. The HIHIC's affiliated faculty and staff appreciate the gift and will continue to work hard, and thoughtfully, to meet Texas Tech's strategic goal of preparing ethical learners for a diverse, globalizing world.
- CoMC Honors Late Newspaper Editor, Daily Toreador
- Texas Tech Receives Gift to Support Hispanic Communications Institute, Texas Tech Today
- Tech Names Hispanic Communication Institute after Former A-J Editor, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal
- Texas Tech Names Hispanic Comm Institute After Former Editor, HispanicBusiness.com