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Harris exemplifies Turman award for service

For Emory alumni, the J. Pollard Turman Alumni Service Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Emory Alumni Association (EAA), is equivalent to the Grammys or the Oscars. This year's Turman award was presented to Virginia Bales Harris '71C-'77MPH in a March 29 ceremony at the Miller-Ward Alumni House.

Many know her as a woman who has spent her entire life in public service in her many roles at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and as an alumna leader for Emory College and the Rollins School of Public Health (RSPH).  She was named an Emory History Maker during the University's 175th anniversary celebration last year.

"This evening has been a bit like previewing my own funeral," Harris said at the ceremony. "It's been a great gift to have… all my friends [together], gathered throughout this room, who've afforded me a balanced life when I had a career that could have consumed me, and supported me in tough times."

With high praises from RSPH Dean James Curran and President James Wagner, Harris dedicated the award to the two people who from the beginning taught her the importance of not just doing public service, but "living service"—her parents.

Along with her award, Harris receives a $25,000 gift from the Tull Charitable Foundation to designate to an Emory program of her choosing.

The J. Pollard Turman Alumni Service Award is one of several alumni-related honors presented by the Emory Alumni Association annually. The Emory community can take part in awarding these high honors by nominating deserving alumni. To learn more about alumni nominations, visit

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