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New Mexico State University

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Former advertising manager makes events shine at NMSU College of Arts & Sciences

There?s no such thing as a typical day for Shari Harris. When she?s not busy organizing events for the College of Arts and Sciences, she is crafting Facebook posts or hard at work putting together pamphlets to promote the college?s 24 departments.

Shari Harris shows off the pamphlets and newsletters she designs for the NMSU College of Arts and Sciences. (Photo by Isabel Rodriguez)

?It?s a very diverse position,? she said when asked what attracted her to the job. ?It?s never the same thing, day in and day out. There?s always something new and exciting to do.?

Originally from New Jersey, Harris has a background in graphic design. She worked as traffic manager at an advertising agency for 11 years before moving to Las Cruces where she worked in advertising at the Las Cruces Sun-News.

Harris works closely with Arts and Sciences College Dean Christa Slaton, who has spent the last four years finding new ways to raise the profile of the college in southern New Mexico while creating opportunities to honor students, faculty and staff. That means an array of events, awards ceremonies and receptions. That?s where Harris comes in.

?Shari is amazing,? Slaton said. ?I know I can count on her to make sure every event comes off without a hitch. She produces brochures and flyers to help us to spread the word about the various programs we have to offer. She handles so many different things, I don?t know what I?d do without her.?

Harris is quick to point out that she?s surrounded by a team of people who help her plan the various events ? from associate deans to administrative assistants, to faculty and students.

?I?m the event planner, but I?m not the only one who works on these pieces,? she said. ?I?m part of a team and we all work together on every single one of these events.?

Her favorite part of the job, Harris says, is the minutes immediately before an event, when all her hard work and planning are about to pay off.

?There?s that moment right before the event happens when everything has come together,? she said. ?You have nothing left to do, because it?s all been done, and you just check things off your list.?

Harris describes her role as a hub, monitoring all the so-called ?moving parts? involved in an event. From invitations and programs to brochures and sponsors, she has to make sure many opinions are considered and to make sure all the pieces come together when it?s show time.
Among her many responsibilities, Harris manages the College of Arts and Sciences? social media channels. From the college Facebook page to the Twitter feed, her goal is to connect the college to its students, alumni and interested community members. The college Facebook page currently has more than 1,600 followers.

One way she adds to those followers is through various contests. Last summer the college Facebook page hosted its second annual ?How I Spent My Summer Vacation photo contest.? Students were encouraged to submit photos of themselves, as well as details about what they did during the summer break and how it related to their education. There were more than 20 entries, and hundreds of votes on Facebook favorites.

During ?Tough Enough to Wear Pink Week? at NMSU, Harris also used the college Facebook page to showcase the door-decorating contest among departments to help raise cancer awareness. She?s now working to increase followers on the college?s official Twitter feed, @ASDeansNMSU.

?The importance of this is to bring awareness to the college,? she said. ?It seems to be the way students are staying in contact, and they seem to appreciate that we post updates about our various events and departments through our social media pages on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.?

Harris is already planning the college?s biggest event for next year, ?A Starry Night,? slated for February 2015. Proceeds from the dinner benefit the Dean?s Fund for Excellence, which provides scholarships for students and supports faculty and researchers in a number of ways ? from equipment grants to bringing in special visitors and covering travel expenses.
?This job gave me the opportunity to see a different side of Las Cruces,? Harris said.
?I think it?s worked well; I like it here.?