Chauncy Dennison Harris


Honorary Degree (1979)
Doctor of Laws
Location: Bloomington
Presenter: John William Ryan


Chauncy Dennison Harris is a man whose work has won international acclaim. One of the country's foremost scholars in economic and urban geography, a specialist in the study of the Soviet Union, Chauncy Harris is also one of the ablest academic administrators in the United States. As a scholar and administrator, he has not only advanced knowledge in his own speciality, he has also pioneered in area studies in American universities.

Chauncy Harris's intellectual abilities were recognized early. Born in Logan, Utah in 1914, Chauncy Harris graduated with an A.B. degree from Brigham Young University in 1933. A Rhodes scholarship took him to Oxford University where in 1936 he earned an M.A. Chauncy Harris spent a year at the London School of Economics before returning to the United States and to the University of Chicago where he completed a doctorate in 1940. It was during this time that Chauncy Harris spent two years as an instructor in the Department of Geography at Indiana University. After a brief teaching appointment at the University of Nebraska, Chauncy Harris returned in 1943 to the University of Chicago, an institution he has served ever since with the deepest commitment, and to its lasting benefit. Chauncy Harris's career at the University of Chicago is an extraordinary record of academic service in teaching, in administration, and in the development of geographical and Slavic studies. In addition to teaching appointments, he has served as Chairman of the Geography Department, as the Director for the Center for International Studies, as Dean of Social Sciences, as Vice-President for Academic Affairs, and as Special Assistant to the President.

As an administrator and teacher, Chauncy Harris has given much to the University of Chicago. He has shared his talent as a scholar and as an administrator with the larger academic communities of the United States and the world. As a scholar his writing and research have been of inestimable value to colleagues. His book, Cities of the Soviet Union, is regarded as a classic study, while his bibliographic works are considered indispensable reference works the world over. Renown in a limited field of speciality is distinction enough, but Chauncy Harris is also recognized as one of the leaders in the development of Slavic Studies in the United States. With scholarship and diplomacy, he has played a crucial administrative role in fostering programs in Soviet and East European Studies throughout the American academic community.

The many honors which have been bestowed on Chauncy Harris can perhaps best indicate the esteem with which he is held in the world academic community. His own country has, of course, honored him for his many years of service in the Association of American Geographers, including terms as its Secretary, Vice-President, and President, winning for him the Association's Honors Award in 1976. He has served as President of the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies and as a director of the Social Science Research Council. In his service for many years as a delegate to the International Geographers Congress, Chauncy Harris has traveled throughout the world. He served also as a delegate to the 1972 U.N.E.S.C.O. Conference held in Paris. No less significant are the honors Chauncy Harris has won from other countries. These include honorary membership in the Royal Geographical Society, and in the geographical societies of Berlin, Frankfort, Rome, Florence, Paris, Warsaw, and Belgrade. He has been awarded an honorary degree from the Catholic University in Chile, and in 1971 he was the recipient of the Alexander Csoma de Korosi Memorial medal from the Hungarian Geographical Society. In 1976, Chauncy Harris was the Laureat d' Honneur of the International Geography Union, and in 1977 he won the Alexander Von Humboldt medal of the Geographical Society in Berlin.

In 1940, Chauncy Harris married Edith Young. They have one daughter.