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Thomas L. Harrison

Thomas L. Harrison (‘72 MS)

Are certain people just genetically wired to be successful? Does environment play a role in success? That is the question that Thomas Harrison, a 1972 graduate of WVU, posed when researching his book Instinct: Tapping Your Entrepreneurial DNA to Achieve Your Business Goals . The answer to both is yes. Through his research and observation, Harrison has discovered ways of “unlocking” the success that is in all of us, and finding ways to manipulate our brains to crave that success. Harrison changes the age old Nature vs. Nurture argument to Nature seeks out Nurture.

Harrison found that, much like tobacco and other addictive drugs, when one experiences success, the body produces chemicals that make the brain crave that substance, therefore, the more success one encounters, the more they crave it and become addicted to it; success that is. The book has received exceedingly positive feedback since its recent release. Harrison has been able to turn his fascination with the science of success into a success of his own.

Harrison received his master of science in cell biology and physiology from WVU and began his career at Pfizer Laboratories where he served as sales representative and later marketing director. After leaving Pfizer, he worked for an independent healthcare advertising agency for six years before branching out on his own. Harrison co-founded Harrison & Star Business Group, which quickly became the most successful and rapidly growing agency in healthcare at the time. He ran the agency for five years and during that time he started a medical education company, a medical PR group and a direct-to-consumer healthcare company.

In 1992 Harrison & Star was acquired by Omnicom, the largest marketing and communications company in the world. Harrison continued to chair his company as well as Diversified Healthcare Communications through 1997 when he was appointed president of Diversified Agency Services (DAS). DAS is the largest division of Omnicom with over 150 separate marketing services and specialty communications companies reporting to him. The DAS division accounts for more than $4 billion of revenue and has more than tripled in size under Harrison’s leadership. In 1998 he was named chairman and chief executive of DAS.

Harrison is also involved with many philanthropic organizations such as The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore, Montefiore Hospital and the New York Chapter of the Arthritis Foundation. He also founded a not-for-profit education foundation in the Westchester County School District. Harrison is a member of the Dean’s Council at Tulane Medical School. He also serves on the New York University (NYU) Campaign Steering Committee and is chairman of the Dean’s Council at The Steinhardt School of Education at NYU.

Harrison has been honored by the Long Island College Hospital, the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore and the Lymphoma Foundation for his work in the community and with philanthropic organizations. He received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor given to American citizens who have made significant contributions to society. Harrison recently announced plans to start a scholarship fund in integrated communications for the Perley Isaac Reed School of Journalism.

Harrison currently resides in Westchester County, N.Y., with his wife Pam, who he met when he was a graduate student at WVU. They have three children, Lindsay, Michael and Matthew.