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New Mexico State University

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Arts & Sciences college event planner juggles numerous responsibilities

Date: 12/01/2014

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.

Woman sitting at her desk surrounded by photos.
Shari Harris works closely with the College of Arts and Sciences dean to plan events in support of students and faculty.

?It?s a very diverse position,? she said when asked what attracted her to her current job. ?It?s never the same thing, day in and day out. There?s always something new and exciting to do. This job gave me the opportunity to see a different side of Las Cruces. I think it?s worked well; I like it here.?

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. Before starting her job at NMSU, she worked in advertising at the Las Cruces Sun-News.

Harris works closely with College of Arts and Sciences Dean Christa Slaton to plan events in support of students and faculty.

?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, 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 minutes immediately before an event, when all her hard work planning is 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. I think, ?There?s got to be something major I forgot!? But, because of our teamwork, things are clicking.?

Events have many moving parts, Harris added, from invitations, programs and brochures to working with sponsors and making sure everyone?s opinion is considered. Harris describes her role as a hub, monitoring all the so-called ?moving parts.?

Among her other responsibilities, Harris manages the College of Arts and Sciences Facebook page, which currently has more than 1,600 followers.

She used the Facebook page to host the college?s 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?d be doing during their 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 Facebook page to showcase the door-decorating contest among departments. She?s now trying 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 currently in the middle of planning the college?s biggest fundraiser, ?A Starry Night,? slated for February 2015. Proceeds 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.

Written by Isabel A. Rodriguez

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