Hunter and Jeannie Harrison have made a $1 million unrestricted gift to the University of Memphis. This gift will be used to support the University’s most critical needs as identified by U of M President Shirley Raines and her advisers.
“We are indebted to Hunter and Jeannie Harrison for their gift to the University,” said Raines. “Their generosity and desire to support the University’s most critical needs will allow us to place much needed resources into areas that will greatly benefit our students and our community.”
“Jeannie and I grew up in Memphis and wanted to give something back to the place we called home for our childhood and young adult years,” said Hunter Harrison. “The University of Memphis has made a significant impact on the city of Memphis over its 100-year history. What better way to give back to our childhood home than to support the University? After reviewing several of the University’s critical needs we decided to make our gift unrestricted, allowing Dr. Raines and her advisers to determine the best and most strategic use of the funds.”
In March, Harrison, a U of M alumnus, led the rail educational session at the Freight Transportation Leadership Academy at the U of M’s Intermodal Freight Transportation Institute (IFTI). Harrison was serving as IFTI’s first Executive in Residence in 2009 when he suggested that the Institute offer a certification program for mid- and upper-level executives. The Academy is a concise program that offers hands-on experience and allows participants to gain a total understanding of the transportation industry, thereby creating a pipeline for future industry leaders.
Harrison began his career in the railroad industry with the Frisco (St. Louis-San Francisco) Railroad while still attending the U of M. He rose through the ranks at Frisco, then with Burlington Northern, which acquired Frisco in 1980. Harrison served as chief operating officer of the Illinois Central Railroad from 1993-98. In 1998 Harrison became COO of CN (Canadian National) Railway Company. In January 2003 he began serving as president and CEO, a position he held until he retired in 2009.
Harrison was named North America’s Railroader of the Year by Railway Age magazine in 2002.
The Harrisons, along with their daughter Cayce, own Double H Farms in Wellington, Fla.