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Post #5 – Letter to Office of Chancellor NC State

February 10, 2013 - Author: Alva - Comments are closed

February 9, 2012

Dr Randy Woodson
Office of the Chancellor
Campus Box 7001, A Holladay Hall
Raleigh, NC 27695

Dear Chancellor Woodson:

I feel a compulsion to submit a long overdue letter expressing my gratitude for an education and learning experiences that have stood me in good stead for a lifetime.  In 1947, NC State became my first home away from home, which was Hyde County, North Carolina.  Since then I graduated from State with three degrees and a post doctoral fellowship.  As a freshman, I adopted the faculty of the zoology department as my second parents.  And they adopted me.  Now at age 84, and in the final stages of Parkinson’s Disease, I still remember most of my early professors:  Dr Brandt for zoology, Dr Wells in botany, Dr Barkalow for wildlife management, Dr Quay for ornithology, Dr Hassler for ichthyology, and last but by no means least, Dr Harkema, my “godlike” mentor and renowned parasitologist.

I have published a memoir, Buzzard’s Myth, which describes this association and might be of historical interest to NC State.  Briefly, my history as a student began in 1947, and lasted until the spring semester of 1949, when my funds were depleted.   I, along with another student, Charles Noble, bought a jeep and drove to Alaska.  Five years later in the spring of 1954, I re-entered State as a third semester sophomore.  The following fall I started my junior year as a newlywed under the GI bill in the Wildlife Management curriculum.  I received a BS in the spring of 1956.  While a senior, I submitted a research proposal under the supervision of Dr Barkalow to the Wildlife Resources Commission.  This well-funded research grant supported my research and publication of a master’s thesis on the Population andEcology of Gray Squirrels in North Carolina.   The Wildlife Resources Commission used this information for setting the hunting season on gray squirrels.

Another work hiatus interrupted my formal education for several years.  Upon returning to NC State, I received a research grant in the PhD program from Dr Harkema in the field of parasitology.  In the spring of 1965 I was the first student to receive a PhD from NC State in Animal Ecology.  I did research on the ecology and life history of trematode parasites in mammals including man.  I was appointed a visiting assistant professor for one year to further this research under a NIH grant.  I hope you can find some mode to express my appreciation to North Carolina State University and all that my education has meant.  The University initiated a life time of seeking the truth in all matters.  I have shared all I have learned with students and peers alike in my endeavors as an educator. 

This about empties my bucket list, though I have an ongoing blog on my website,, depicting my final stages of Parkinson’s Disease.  My audience is very small but it gives me satisfaction to try to share knowledge until the very end.  I intend to post this letter on my blog as a way to acknowledge NC State for all that I have received.  I would be honored to think this letter might be entered into the North Carolina State University archives. 

A grateful alumnus,

Alva H Harris PhD, Professor Emeritus

Categories: Blog Diary


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