UA’s Adam Harbison Wins George J. Mitchell Scholarship to go with His Truman Scholarship

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Chalk up another prestigious scholarship for The University of Alabama’s Adam Harbison.

Harbison, a December ‘07 UA graduate (summa cum laude) from Crane Hill who majored in health care management (4.0 GPA), has won one of 12 George J. Mitchell Scholarships offered for study in Ireland and Northern Ireland. Harbison last year was named the only Truman Scholar from Alabama, and one of only 65 nationally.

The George J. Mitchell Scholarship is a national competitive fellowship sponsored by the U.S.-Ireland Alliance. The Mitchell Scholarship, named to honor the former U.S. Senator’s pivotal contribution to the Northern Ireland peace process, is designed to introduce and connect generations of future American leaders to the island of Ireland, while recognizing and fostering intellectual achievement, leadership, and a commitment to public service and community.

Twelve Mitchell Scholars between the ages of 18 and 30 are chosen annually for one year of postgraduate study in any discipline offered by institutions of higher learning in Ireland and Northern Ireland. Applicants are judged on three criteria: academic excellence, leadership, and a sustained commitment to service and community. The Mitchell Scholarship provides tuition, housing, a living expenses stipend and an international travel stipend.

The Mitchell Scholars were selected after a rigorous application process that drew 300 applications from more than 150 colleges and universities across the country. The process culminated in a final interview before a selection committee composed of eminent leaders from many fields.

Harbison, UA’s first Mitchell Scholar, will leave for the Emerald Isle in September, ‘09, and will spend a year working in the country’s rural areas while studying at Queen’s University Belfast.

“I am really excited about this opportunity,” Harbison said. “Ireland is really progressive in this area. The country does a lot for its rural communities. They look across borders and look at everything holistically. I am truly looking forward to learning about how to address the economic, social and environmental factors that affect rural areas and citizens.”

Harbison is a Truman-Albright Fellow working in Washington, D.C. with the Appalachian Regional Commission, a federal-state partnership that works with the people of Appalachia to promote economic and social development, develop infrastructure and manage health care projects.

One of Harbison’s passions is addressing the health needs of the rural poor, and one of his responsibilities with the ARC involves improving oral health in West Virginia. Harbison initiated a $500,000 oral health care program for the rural poor that provides preventative dental care in schools and links the children to area dentists. The US – Ireland Alliance noted Harbison’s work in West Virginia in announcing his selection.

Health care runs in the Harbison family. His mother is a nurse. “Health care is something I have always been around, and I thought about going into the medical field, but I decided that I could have the biggest impact on the administrative and policy side,” he said.

While an undergraduate at UA, Harbison served as founder and president of UA’s College Against Cancer chapter and created the Tobacco Kit, a tool designed to assist campuses in the adoption and enforcement of smoke-free policies. In 2006-07, he was appointed and served as National Advocacy Chair for the organization, overseeing the work of more than 350 chapters.

Harbison served as an intern with Alabama State Treasurer Kay Ivey in 2005 and got a taste of public service, including acting as liaison to the Alabama Black Belt Action Commission health committee.

He was a member of the Advanced Business Honors Program and a member of Beta Gamma Sigma Business Honorary. At the 2007 Honors Day, he was tapped into all four senior honoraries including the Anderson Society, Mortar Board, Blue Key and ODK. He received the UA National Alumni Association’s Outstanding Senior Award and was named to the USA Today All-USA Today College Academic Team.

He said the education he has received at The University of Alabama and at the Culverhouse College of Commerce has been top-notch.

“The University and the College has prepared me not only academically, but for real life situations,” he said. He said Dr. Marilyn Whitman, director of the business school’s health care management program, Dr. Robert Halli, dean of the Honors College, and Dr. Ron Dulek, John R. Miller Professor of Management and Marketing, have been particularly helpful.

Harbison said he plans to return to Alabama following his time in Ireland to apply what he has learned in the rural areas of his home state.


Bill Gerdes, Media relations, 205/348-8318,