Michael Harrison Wins Glen L. Taggart Award for Contribution to International Understanding
Published: Thursday, 14 Jun 2012
On Wednesday, March 21 the 2012 International Awards Ceremony was held where Michael Harrison won the Glen L. Taggart Award for Community Contribution to International Understanding.
Michael G. Harrison is a living example of the values embraced by Michigan State University and its vision of a World-Grant University. His long-standing passion for international understanding and cooperation was made apparent through his work to assist young Libyan professionals in East Lansing last year.
As the Arab Spring swept through the Middle East, participants in MSU’s Visiting International Professional Program (VIPP) from Libya were thrust into a humanitarian crisis—cut off from funding as a result of a civil war in their homeland. This is when Harrison went to work, developing a support network for the Libyans and their 21 dependents.
Harrison created a network which included fellow attorneys, who would provide legal counsel for participants seeking asylum in the U.S. He also mobilized individuals, local NGOs and religious groups to provide financial support for food, housing and medical assistance.
When one of the Libyans’ dependants required surgery, Harrison made connections with medical specialists in the greater Lansing area. Thanks to Harrison several physicians agreed to provide the needed orthopedic surgery at no cost to the Libyan family.
When the Libyans first arrived at MSU, a number of them harbored feelings of mistrust, suspicion and doubt about the U.S. and the American people. Yet, these same people now depart MSU with an understanding of how American people are capable of deep care and friendship.
This fundamental transformation is due in large part to the humanity and compassion shown by our community and the efforts of Harrison.
Harrison served as a judge of the 30th Judicial Circuit of Michigan for nearly 25 years. He was Chief Judge for 12 years and served by assignment on the Michigan Court of Appeals on a number of occasions. While on the bench, Harrison was involved in numerous activities to improve the justice system. He is currently a senior attorney with Foster, Swift, Collins & Smith P.C.