Jim Harless, director of administrations at Marshall University, stands outside of Old Main, the building he has worked in for more than 30 years.Harless
will retire in January.
HUNTINGTON -- No high school in West Virginia can hide from Jim Harless
It doesn't matter how deep into the hollows, how far from Main Street. "He knows every crook and cranny of West Virginia, in terms of where the schools are and where the students are," said John Thralls, vice chancellor for administration with the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, who has known Harless for decades.
retires Jan. 2 after more than 30 years in the business, it will be a loss not only for Marshall University
, but for the entire state, Thralls said.
The university hosts a farewell reception for Harless
at 3 p.m. Friday in the John Marshall Room of the Memorial Student Center
."Marshall University owes a tremendous debt to Jim Harless," said Sarah Denman, provost and vice president for academic affairs.
...Harless -- whose mother, wife Harriett and two children attended Marshall -- first worked as a recruiter and then as an orientation director.
"They asked me to come on for a while, and here I am," Harless
said."Never would I have wanted to come over that way, but I did, and I've enjoyed it ever since."
watched enrollment grow from about 7,000 to more than 16,000 students.He's
been instrumental in establishing new scholarships to help make college more affordable for hard-working students, helping expand scholarship funds from $200,000 per year to $1.5 million per year.Harless
also had a role in getting the admission standards raised from a score of 17 to a 19 on the ACT admissions test.He
said the average grade-point average of incoming freshmen has climbed from 2.96 to 3.3 since the standards were put into effect a couple years ago.Harless
has put service above administrative convenience, Thralls said.
...Michelle Wicks, scholarship coordinator for the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, worked under Harless for six years as an adviser in the admissions office.
But now is the time to slow down, Harless
"I think it's time for me to be cautious about my health," he
said."I'm going to miss the family of friends I have at Marshall, and seeing students walk through the door and trying to help them."He
will continue to work part-time at the university, coordinating with alumni to serve as recruiters for Marshall at college fairs and events in other states.He
also plans to work as a lay minister in the Presbyterian church, preaching at churches who need a minister for the week.
...Harless told his friend about his upcoming retirement and plans to become a minister.His
friend told him he's
already been preaching for years, only on a different subject -- the importance of college and the benefits of choosing Marshall University