Harris, Robin S.

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English / Higher Education

27 October 1919 - 11 February 2000

Professor Emeritus of Higher Education

Ronald (Robin) Sutton Harris was a native of Toronto, graduating from the University of Toronto in 1941 from the honour course in English Language and Literature. After war service, he taught at the elementary school level for a year; and then returned to the University to complete a M.A. degree in English in 1947. At that point he accepted a temporary instructorship at the University of Western Ontario. This experience prompted him to undertake a doctoral program at the University of Michigan, graduating with a PhD in English and Education in 1952. (Disseertation: "The Place of English Studies in a University Progam of General Education." For the next twelve years he worked as a faculty member in the Department of English at University College and in the Combined Department of English. A parallel interest in the university history led to his appointment in 1964 as a professor of higher education. His subsequent relationship with the Department of English was limited to participation in the M.A.T. (English) program; and his primary teaching and research focus remained the history of higher education. His contribution in this field was recognized by his appointment in 1970 as University Historian by President Claude Bissell.  Professor Harris served as well as founding Principal of Innis College, serving from 1963 to 1971.


Honourary degrees from the University of Western Ontario and Ryerson Polytechnical Institute

Named Distinguished Member, Canadian Society for the Study of Higher Education, 1977


Robin Harris' most significant published work was his standard study, A History of Higher Education in Canada, 1663-1960 (University of Toronto Press, 1976). His other publications included:

The Undergraduate Essay. 1956.

A bibliography of higher education in Canada (edited with Arthur Tremblay). Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1960; Supplements (1965, 1971, 1981). 

The evolution of a provincial system of higher education in Ontario. Toronto: s.n., 1965.

Changing patterns of higher education in Canada (editor). Toronto: Ontario College of Education, 1966.

On higher education: Five lectures. Toronto: Ontario College of Education, 1966.

An annotated list of the legislative acts concerning higher education in Ontario (compiled with the assistance of Constance Allen and Mary Lewis). Toronto: Innis College, 1966.

An index to the material bearing on higher education contained in J.G. Hodgins' Documentary history of education in Upper Canada (Ontario). (compiled with the assistance of Constance Allen). Toronto: Innis College, 1966.

Quiet evolution: a study of the educational system of Ontario. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1967.

Cold Iron and Lady Godiva: Engineering education at Toronto, 1920-1972 (edited with Ian Montagnes). Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1973.

English studies at Toronto: A history. Toronto: Governing Council of the University of Toronto, 1988. 

The Eldon House diaries: Five women's views of the nineteenth century (edited with Terry G. Harris). Toronto: The Champlain Society in co-operation with the Government of Ontario, c1994.

References Family History




Robin S. Harris Memorial Scholarship (Innis College)