Roosevelt University Elects Alumna Pat Harris as New Board Chair

Pat Harris

CHICAGO–(ENEWSPF)–June 18, 2015. Pat Harris, global chief diversity officer and vice president of global community engagement of McDonald’s Corporation, today was elected as the 12th chair of Roosevelt University’s Board of Trustees.  Her three-year term begins July 1, 2015.  She succeeds James J. Mitchell III, who was elected a life trustee, after serving as board chair since 1997.

A 1980 Roosevelt graduate, Harris has the distinction of being one of a few African-American women currently chairing a university board.  She joined Roosevelt’s Board of Trustees in 2010 and previously served as vice chair and chair of the University’s Presidential Search Committee.

“I am very excited about the opportunity to chair Roosevelt’s Board of Trustees,” Harris said.  “I see this as a terrific opportunity to continue the good work of Jim Mitchell and President Chuck Middleton.  I look forward to a great partnership with our new president, Ali Malekzadeh, the board, staff and faculty.  As a Roosevelt alumna, I take this role very seriously and look forward to doing everything possible to help our students today and in the future.”

Harris said she and Malekzadeh will work together and collaborate with the Roosevelt community to ensure success during the current period of leadership transition.  “It will be both personally and professionally rewarding because of what Roosevelt stands for and what we all believe is great for our students,” she said.

At McDonald’s, Harris is responsible for developing and implementing diversity strategies and global community engagement throughout the company, including its 36,000 restaurants in more than 100 countries.  Under her leadership, McDonald’s has been widely recognized for its commitment to inclusion and diversity and she was named one of the “Top 10 Diversity Champions in the Country” by Working Mother magazine.
Like McDonald’s, Roosevelt University is committed to inclusion and diversity and is the fourth most diverse university in the Midwest. “Both organizations believe in creating an environment where everyone, regardless of their differences, can be successful and contribute their best,”Harris said.
As chair of Roosevelt’s Board of Trustees, Harris leads a board comprised of 41 public trustees, five faculty trustees and two student trustees, plus life and honorary trustees.

Raised in McBee, S.C., Harris is the youngest of 11 children and her initial goal was to be a secretary in a major corporation.  In 1976, after marrying and moving to Chicago, she joined McDonald’s as an administrative assistant and worked for Michael Quinlan, who later would become McDonald’s CEO.
Determined to move ahead at McDonald’s, Harris enrolled at Roosevelt University on the recommendation of a friend and earned a bachelor’s degree in public administration in 1980.  “I just loved Roosevelt,” she said. “I was basically formulating a whole new life and getting used to being in Chicago.  Roosevelt University was a big part of that.”

While attending Roosevelt, a human resources position opened at McDonald’s and Quinlan encouraged her to apply.  She was selected as a compensation analyst and later promoted to human relations supervisor, responsible for recruiting for the executive staff.  In 1985, she was appointed as an affirmative action manager and she has been global chief diversity officer since 2006.

Harris described McDonald’s philosophy of inclusiveness in a book she wrote in 2009 titled None of Us Is as Good as All of Us.  Through interviews with 60 key employees, franchisees and suppliers, the book explains the evolution of diversity at McDonald’s, and how McDonald’s embraces all races, creeds and cultures to create unity and business success.