Nancy Harris
Student Services Coordinator, Comparative Literature

Author and Photographer: Mariam Negaran

When Comparative Literature Chair Silke-Maria Weineck nominated Nancy Harris, Student Services Coordinator, for a Spotlight Award, little did she expect that supportive emails would flood her inbox overnight.  In fact, the emails and letters of support from faculty, staff, graduate, and undergraduate students far exceeded the norm.

And it’s not hard to understand why.  As soon as you walk into the Comparative Literature office, you are greeted with a warm, engaging smile and a helpful attitude.  As Student Services Coordinator, Nancy is responsible for supporting and advising both undergraduate and graduate students, a task that is formidable, but Nancy handles it effortlessly.  When students are nervous or anxious about academic deadlines or personal issues, Nancy quickly puts them at ease with her knowledge, dedication, compassion, and unflagging sense of humor.

“The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about Nancy is her wonderful smile,” graduate student Maayan Eitan notes. “No matter what the circumstances are, Nancy will always have something encouraging and helpful to say.”

However, her support also extends beyond the student realm, when she greatly helped the department in its chair and key administrator transitions and departmental review.  It was during these times of change that Nancy’s steady knowledge and resourcefulness shone through.

“Without her, the tornado known as September in these parts would have, no doubt, left me at the very least severely disheveled,” Department Chair Weineck says. “I am convinced that Nancy Harris is the heart of Comparative Literature, and that it is her spirit that keeps us all together as a community.”

Born in Ann Arbor, Nancy and her family moved to New York State for a while, but she knew she was destined to go the University of Michigan after she attended a football game while visiting family in Michigan. After graduation, when the company she worked for went out of business, Nancy found her passion for student services in the 90s, while working in various departments at the University of Michigan, Stanford University, Eastern Michigan University, and ultimately returned to the University of Michigan in 2006, and hasn’t looked back since.

“Students keep you on your toes,” Nancy remarks with a laugh. “I love being able to help students navigate the system and not just give answers, but show them how to be resourceful and find the answers on their own.”

Nancy hopes that by doing this, students stay grounded and leave the university with the tools they need to succeed both academically and professionally. As surprised as she was to receive the Spotlight Award, she insists that there is a lot of give and take and greatly appreciates the department for its support and understanding of what it takes to get the job done.

“I truly appreciate the thought, effort, and all the kind words and support that went into my nomination,” Nancy says fondly.

When Nancy isn’t busy being helpful, she enjoys spending time with her son, daughter, eight grandkids, and  her new puppy, a wire-hair fox terrier named Scamper. She is also an active MHealthy participant who likes taking walks and being outdoors, especially near the cottage that she and her husband own in New Era, near Lake Michigan.

Congratulations, Nancy, on a job well done!