Edwin Harrison, Faculty
The following is an Oral History Interview with the former Georgia Tech President Dr. Edwin Harrison, conducted by Marilyn J. Somers, on December 15, 1995, at his home in Alpharetta, Georgia. The subject of this interview is his administration at Georgia Tech. Dr. Harrison begins the interview by describing the unlikely circumstances that led him to the Presidency at Georgia Tech. He says that he was hired almost as an accident after representatives from Georgia Tech spoke briefly with him at the University of Toledo before interviewing the candidate they came to see. This incidental meeting, according to Harrison, impressed the Tech representatives enough to induce them to recommend him for the Tech presidency. Mr. Harrison describes his first few days in office and the substantial assistance given to him by interim President Paul Weber in the transition. Furthermore, Dr. Harrison talks about the significant assistance of comptroller Jamie Anthony, who for example, acquired land for further campus expansion later in his administration. Dr. Harrison also discusses his family's reactions to living in the President's Mansion. Dr. Harrison says that he enjoyed woodworking activities in the basement and his sons took pleasure in repelling down the side of the mansion. He also mentions piloting an airplane provided by the Alumni Association at Charlie Brown airport. Returning to his discussion of his first year, Dr. Harrison tells the humorous story of attending Freshman Camp with the other "rats." Shifting to more serious matters, Dr. Harrison discusses his administration's handling of the integration of both women and African-Americans into the Georgia Tech community. Dr. Harrison says that both processes were extremely, but not surprisingly, smooth. He discusses at length Georgia Tech legends Dean George Griffin and Coach Bobby Dodd as well as future Georgia Tech legend Dean Dull, whom he credits with making the black integration so trouble free. Dr. Harrison tells an amusing story about the KKK picketing his house, while he watched the ruckus from his airplane overhead. As President of Georgia Tech, Dr. Harrison says he dealt with many influential Georgians such as Atlanta mayor Ivan Allen, Georgia legislator George T. Smith, and Georgia governor Marvin Griffin. He discusses his attendance at many Tech sporting events, including a bowl loss to Penn State. At the banquet following the bowl, Harrison lambasted "State Pen" which prompted one Tech player to state, "We might have lost the game, but we won the banquet." After a discussion of his sons, Dr. Harrison talks about his own youth, including his own vagabond childhood, his eventual attendance at the Naval Academy, and his checkered teaching career before arriving at Georgia Tech. Mr. Harrison ends the interview with a discussion of his wife's involvement with the women on campus, and the many honorary degrees he has received throughout his lifetime.
1995 December 15