Odyssey Medal

Don Harrell, Jr.

HarrellDon Harrell, now retired, led a remarkable and rich professional career.  The central theme to Harrell’s work has been a commitment to the values of higher education and public service. As a professor of English at the University of Houston beginning in 1968, Harrell spent seven years in the classroom helping undergraduates to develop a love for American literature before accepting a position in 1975 for then-Governor David Pryor as his press secretary. As childhood friends from Camden, Pryor entrusted Harrell with the task of translating, crafting, and communicating his message to the citizens of Arkansas. Harrell then briefly returned to education, joining the University Affairs staff of the State University of New York for three years as a communications associate. In 1981, Harrell accepted the position as David Pryor’s administrative assistant, or chief of staff, in the United States Senate where he served for 12 years. After more than a decade in Washington, and nearly twenty years in politics, Harrell accepted the position of Executive Vice President for External Affairs of the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association-College Retirement Equities Fund in New York City, one of the nation’s largest private retirement systems, covering nearly three million members of the academic community. He spent 11 years with TIAA-CREF. 

Harrell is a 1959 graduate of Hendrix.  He earned a master’s degrees from American University and George Washington University before receiving a doctorate degree from Vanderbilt University in American Literature