Charles Custis Harrison

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Charles Custis Harrison
Charles Custis Harrison.jpg
Charles C. Harrison, 1911
Provost of the
University of Pennsylvania
In office
Preceded byWilliam Pepper
Succeeded byEdgar Fahs Smith
Personal details
Born(1844-05-03)May 3, 1844
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
DiedFebruary 12, 1929(1929-02-12) (aged 84)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Charles Custis Harrison (May 3, 1844 – February 12, 1929) was an American university provost. He was born in Philadelphia on May 3, 1844, the son of George Leib and Sarah Ann (Waples) Harrison.


His early education was at the private school of Miss Tatham on Pine Street in Philadelphia and the parish school of St. Luke's Episcopal Church before entering Episcopal Academy. He received the Bachelor of Arts in 1862, the Masters of Arts in 1865, and an honorary LL.D. in 1911 from the University of Pennsylvania.


"Happy Creek Farm," (c.1890), Devon, Pennsylvania, Frank Furness, architect. Harrison's country house.

He married Ellen Nixon Waln in 1870. As the co-owner of a very profitable sugar refinery, he became a Trustee of the University in 1876 and continued in this capacity until his death in 1929.


In 1894, at the urging of his colleagues, he became the Provost of the University. His years as Provost, 1894-1910, were a time of expansive growth for the University of Pennsylvania, especially in the number of buildings added to the campus. Using his extensive personal contacts from his business and political associates, Harrison raised funds (making large contributions himself) for dormitories as well as Houston Hall, the University Museum, the Medical Laboratory, the Law, Engineering, and Dental School buildings from the wealthy of Philadelphia society.

After Provost[edit]

After stepping down as Provost, he continued his involvement with the University as the Vice President and later, President, of the Board of the Managers of the University Museum (1911-1929). During this period, joint expeditions with the British Museum were planned and carried out and many works of art were procured for the Museum. Harrison won the Philadelphia Award in the year 1924. He died in Philadelphia on February 12, 1929.

  • Wikisource-logo.svg This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainGilman, D. C.; Peck, H. T.; Colby, F. M., eds. (1905). "article name needed". New International Encyclopedia (1st ed.). New York: Dodd, Mead.