Within the walls of Clement Hall, a man by the name of Ray Harris came to work every day to complete janitorial and maintenance work for the student residents of the building. Mr. Harris has been a part of the University of Tennessee family for 34 years, starting his work in food service and then moving to residential housekeeping where he finished his career at the university.
Every day for the last 34 years Mr. Harris would walk to and from campus, rain or shine, for his daily shifts, his commute totaling around one hour each way from his home in South Knoxville. Only occasionally would he take the bus. When asked why he does not drive, Mr. Harris simply responded with “I like being the passenger. Besides there are enough crazy drivers out there.”
Ray Harris retired on February 27, 2019, and while he may have completed his time here with us at the university, he wishes he could stay longer. “You can always tell Mr. Ray loves his job. He works so hard and always does it with a smile. His sense of humor and positive attitude will be missed here in Clement!” says Tom Scearce, assistant hall director at Clement.
“I have my family at home but when I came to work, I also had a work family here too that motivated me to come every day,” Mr. Ray said. He has many memories and stories of the students during his time here at the University of Tennessee that he plans to keep with him always.
Caleb Texeria, a sophomore resident assistant in Clement Hall, stated “Mr. Ray always worked diligently, without complaining, and with a smile on his face. The amount of work he has done for Clement to ensure that residents had a quality living environment cannot be overstated, and we wish him the absolute best in the next chapter of his life!”
Mr. Ray Harris plans to work a small part-time job after he retires because he does not plan to sit home and doing nothing; he likes to keep busy. “I’ll miss it a lot especially the people. It going to be strange to wake up in the morning and not have anything to do,” Mr. Harris stated.
Ray Harris is a wonderful representation of how incorporated our faculty and staff are to our students. The University of Tennessee wishes him all the best in his future and we hope he continues to make his famous walks to campus to visit us.
Kiera Przygoda is a junior at the University of Tennessee majoring in communication studies. She is the undergraduate public relations intern for the Office of Communication and Marketing. She has a passion for writing and media and a love for Disney. Kiera is also a student assistant at SEC Network and VFL Films.