Richard Alexander Harris Jr. (’62), 79, former UNT associate vice president for computing and UNT System chief technology officer, of Denton, died Aug. 4 in Sparta, Ill. During his 43 years at UNT, he was instrumental in creating and leading computing and technology services.
After completing his bachelor's degree in mathematics at North Texas, he was one of the university's first computer operators and programmers when he started working as a graduate assistant in 1962. The next year, he was appointed acting director of the Academic Computing Center and taught programming courses. In 1964, he became director of computer systems and led the Academic Computing Center and the Administrative Data Processing Center, which merged in 1970 as the university’s Computing Center. He retired as associate vice president for computing and chief technology officer in 2005.
He was selected as the 2004 Dallas-Fort Worth Area Information Technology Executive of the Year by the Society for Information Management after his leadership in implementing the UNT System's web-based, multi-campus Enterprise Information System ahead of schedule and under budget.
Richard was an active supporter of UNT along with his wife, Joneel (’75 M.S., ’99 Ph.D.), who served as registrar and associate vice president for enrollment management until her retirement in 2006. Members of the President’s Council and the UNT Alumni Association, they funded the Richard and Joneel Harris Scholarship in Higher Education in the College of Education for graduate students with a minor in research or technology. In his free time, Richard ran a ranch with his brother, played Pokémon Go and enjoyed traveling in his RV, often to compete in and win trapshooting events. He was in Sparta to attend the Grand American World Trapshooting Championships when he passed away. His motto was, "It's never too late to have a happy childhood."
Visitation will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. Aug. 14 at the Mulkey-Bowles-Montgomery Funeral Home, 705 N. Locust, in Denton. A Celebration of Life is scheduled from 4 to 8 p.m. Aug. 14 at Denton Country Club, 1213 Country Club Road, in Argyle. Memorials may be made to the Richard and Joneel Harris Scholarship.