Oscar N. Harris

Why We Give

The black tie gala held on April 1 in the Academic Circle on main campus  served as more than a celebration of the successful Campbell Leads campaign. It doubled as an official “opening ceremony” for the student union that towered over the outdoor tent where the festivities were held. And it allowed for a much-deserved public tribute to the man whose name can be found near both entrances of the building.

Oscar N. Harris, a 1965 Campbell graduate who would go on to serve for 20 years as mayor for the city of Dunn, North Carolina, and longtime supporter and advocate for his alma mater, died on Jan. 28, 2020, just months before his naming gift for the Oscar N. Harris Student Union was made public.

Harris — who when not in politics ran his own accounting firm and served multiple terms as a Campbell University trustee and member of several committees — was a vital cog in the fundraising engine that made the Jerry M. Wallace School of Osteopathic Medicine possible in 2013. He lent his business acumen once again when the Campbell Leads campaign was launched and funds were needed for the 110,000-square-foot student union, a much-needed addition to the student experience for on-campus residents and commuters alike.

Ben Thompson honored the late Oscar N. Harris at the April 1 gala celebrating the Campbell Leads campaign.

Ben Thompson, a 1976 Campbell graduate, 1979 Campbell Law graduate and current chairman of the Board of Trustees, provided a tribute to his longtime friend at the April 1 event, calling Harris, “quite simply the man you needed to have on your side” in all business ventures.

“He was a tireless worker and an effective advocate for any cause he supported,” Thompson said.

President J. Bradley Creed shared the story of the first time he met Harris and recalled the day he heard news of his untimely death.

“What a legacy he has left all of us,” Creed said. “Oscar embodies the spirit of not just the student union, but of this University.”

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