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Texas Tech Receives Gift to Support Hispanic Communications Institute

Institute will bear the name of former Avalanche-Journal editor.

Written by Leslie Cranford

Thomas Jay Harris

Thomas Jay Harris (1918-2006)
Photo courtesy: LubbockOnline

Officials from the Texas Tech University System (TTUS) announced today a gift from the Charitable Trust of Thomas Jay Harris that will rename the Institute for Hispanic and International Communication in the College of Media & Communication.

In recognition of Harris’ gift to the college, the institute will be renamed the Thomas Jay Harris Institute for Hispanic and International Communication. The naming was approved by the TTUS Board of Regents at its Aug. 9 meeting.

Born in Stephenville in 1918, Harris moved to Lubbock at an early age and began writing a classroom newspaper in seventh grade. He later became editor of the Lubbock High School Westerner World newspaper and was awarded a four-year scholarship in journalism to Texas Tech. Upon graduation, he and some friends took a road trip deep into Mexico, his first introduction to other cultures, a subject that through journalism became a life’s focus.

After graduation, he took a job at the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal as sports editor and then moved to the news department. Harris joined the Army Air Force as a journalist at the outbreak of World War II.

Harris moved back to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal as a sports reporter, winning many awards. He then became news editor, covering the rapid growth of Lubbock and Texas Tech University, a position he held for more than 40 years.

“Jay Harris was a dear friend and is remembered for his tremendous dedication to the Lubbock community and Texas Tech,” said Chancellor Kent Hance. “With this contribution, Jay’s legacy will live on at Texas Tech and is helping advance our efforts to provide a diverse and high-quality educational experience.”

The institute promotes better understanding of Hispanic-related and international media communication through research, teaching and community outreach. Its goal is to create knowledge and encourage greater intercultural awareness through informed interaction among students, teachers, researchers, media industry representatives and community organizations. The institute supports on-campus initiatives as well as external activities and collaborations related to its mission.

“Texas Tech is grateful to the family and trust of Jay Harris for this generous gift,” said Texas Tech President M. Duane Nellis. “In a world that is becoming smaller and more globally connected every day, this gift will certainly help promote his passion for the university, for communicating the diversity of world cultures and for furthering the cause of teaching and research in international communication.”

Texas Tech administrators and friends of Jay Harris gathered Sept. 4 to honor his legacy.

The bequest from Harris’ trust will support the institute’s research, including $300,000 to enable development of reciprocal courses and exchange programs on global communications and enable students to communicate with students, faculty and mass communication professionals in other countries for further roles in international media.

“This gift represents an ideal occasion when a generous donor’s vision aligns with the mission of an established program offering meaningful research and learning opportunities at the regional, state, national and international levels,” said Kent Wilkinson, Regents Professor in Hispanic and International Communication and director of the institute.

“The institute deeply appreciates this generous gift that will advance Texas Tech’s collective mission to prepare students to be ethical leaders for a diverse and globally competitive workforce.”

The institute co-sponsors the annual Global Lens Film Series, which it has brought to campus for the past five years.

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College of Media & Communication
College of Media & Communication

College of Media & Communication at Texas Tech offers undergraduate degrees in various communications-related disciplines including:

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