Davidson County Community College gets $7.5 million bequest

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Davidson County Community College President Mary Rittling announced today at the college’s Thanksgiving gathering that members of the campus community have another reason to be thankful: The late Christine Harris of Lexington has bequeathed to the DCCC Foundation a gift of more than $7.5 million.
The donation is by far the largest gift to the college and is one of the largest gifts in North Carolina community college history, according to Jenny Varner, executive director of the DCCC Foundation.
“We pause today to serve up a very sincere thank you to the late Christine Harris, whose extraordinary gift will be cause for thanksgiving for years to come among thousands of students across Davidson and Davie counties who will benefit from her amazing generosity,” Rittling said. “We are humbled by her gift and committed to ensuring it will be put to excellent use.”
Harris, who was 87 when she died in August, was born and lived in Davidson County. Her husband, Charles Donovan “Dutchie” Harris, died in 2003. Their only son, Charles Young Harris, died in 1989.
Her interest in the college began during her son’s time as a DCCC student in the 1970s. He graduated with honors in 1975 with an associate in science degree and then also completed additional coursework at DCCC before pursuing a four-year degree. Harris was grateful to DCCC for providing her son the opportunity to achieve educational goals while he struggled with health issues that required him to stay close to home. The extent of her interest in DCCC, however, was not known until her death.
The Harris name has been synonymous with the telephone industry in Lexington for more than 100 years. Lexcom Communications was founded in 1896 as Lexington Telephone Company by a group of local business leaders and was one of the city’s oldest independent companies when it was acquired by Windstream in 2010. William F. Harris, Christine Harris’ father-in-law, assumed leadership of the company in 1905. He was followed by his two sons.
The Harris family and the telephone company have been longtime supporters of DCCC through scholarship funds and other contributions.
“On behalf of the DCCC Foundation, I want to express gratitude to every donor who, like Christine Harris, has provided important opportunities to our students and our community,” said Barbara Leonard, president of the DCCC Foundation Board of Directors. “We could not do what we do without the support of thousands of donors who make DCCC the incredible place it is.”