Briggs is a political science instructor at Northwestern State’s Leesville/Fort Polk campus. The gifts honor Dr. Briggs’ late wife, Lydia Briggs, and his aunt, Dr. Dora Douglas Briggs.
“How does one thank a person whose generosity and kindness seem to know no bounds? It’s impossible to thank someone enough who has given of himself and of his resources in support of programs at Northwestern State,” said University President Dr. Randall J. Webb. “Harry loves teaching. He loves students. I can’t figure out how he manages to do all that he does.”
Several of Briggs’ colleagues offered remarks that reflected their gratitude to his support, including Northwestern State Women’s Tennis Coach Patric Dubois and student-athlete Olga Bazhanova. Briggs is a vocal fan of the Northwestern State Women’s Tennis Team and travels long distances to watch them compete.
“You a great example for me,” said Bazhanova, addressing Briggs. “You are a person who never says no. Impossible is possible. You are an example for every one of my teammates and when you are cheering, we hear you.”
Known since the 1950s as “The Paddlin’ Professor,” Dr. Briggs has over the years initiated several scholarship endowments to benefit current and future students at Northwestern. He has also completed several distance swims to raise funds for scholarship, mostly recently a two-mile swim across Kincaid Lake to commemorate his 90th birthday last May.
Briggs is a member of the International Swimming Hall of Fame for his distance swimming exploits around the world as a young man and has not stopped challenging himself. In addition to his numerous swimming accomplishments, Briggs is a Marine Corps veteran of World War II battles in the Pacific Theatre at Saipan, Tinian and Okinawa. He has climbed the Matterhorn, worked in Alaska and is a native New Englander and graduate of Tufts University, where he also has created scholarship endowments. As a sportswriter and sportscaster, he traveled to Mexico and Cuba and interviewed luminaries such as Jackie Robinson, Ted Williams and Muhammad Ali.
“It’s a pleasure to teach at 90 and to swim at 91,” Briggs said. “To associate with young people and explain how our government works is a great privilege for me.”
Briggs will complete another swim across Kincaid Lake on May 17 to commemorate his 91st birthday. The swim will conclude when Briggs emerges from the water at Tunk’s Cypress Inn, where a celebration will include raffles and other features with proceeds benefitting Northwestern State’s Cenla programs. The public is invited to attend.
“We sincerely thank Dr. Briggs for his generosity to Northwestern,” said Drake Owens, director of University Advancement. “This planned gift is his latest gesture of kindness, but it is certainly not the first. Dr. Briggs has been loyal to Northwestern State through his contributions for many years.”
Briggs thanked his colleagues and Assistant Director of Development Jill Bankston for her tenacity and assistance in establishing the annuity gift. Anyone interested in learning more about establishing a gift annuity should contact Owens at (318) 357-4250 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Bankston at (318) 357-4241 or e-mail email@example.com.
For more information on Briggs’ 91st birthday swim, contact Marsha Zulick, executive director of Northwestern State’s Cenla Center, at (318) 484-2184 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.