Paul Percy Harris, 1888
Paul Percy Harris, creator of The Rotary Club.
At Vermont Academy, Paul Percy Harris, creator of The Rotary Club, received the discipline and motivation he needed to graduate Princeton University and the University of Iowa Law School.
Vermont Academy is proud to honor Harris, class of 1888, with the Florence Sabin Distinguished Alumni Award (1987). Harris traveled the U.S. as a cowhand, teacher, newspaper reporter, and seaman until 1900. Before starting a law practice, Harris formed a service group, The Rotary Club, which became one of the world’s most important social organizations. Today, Rotary International has chapters in 166 countries. In 1948, Roger Levy, a staff member of Rotary International, eulogized Harris: “Everywhere he impresses those who met him, and heard him with his simplicity and sincerity and his refusal to be seen as a visionary. He had happened to found a club, which turned into an international movement, but he remained a gentle, humorous, and friendly man, until his death…a quiet American who was unforgotten by those who had the privilege of meeting him.” In The First Rotarian -- The Life and Times of Paul Percy Harris, he is deemed “one of the great social architects of this, or any other century.”