Dr. Zelema Harris holds a Bachelor's Degree from Prairie View A&M University in Prairie, Texas, a historically Black College and received a Master's and Ph.D. in Education from the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas. She was honored with a place in the University's Women's Hall of Fame in 1988.
She is the former President of Parkland College in Champaign, Illinois, and is also the recipient of numerous awards, including President of the Year by the American Association of Women in Community Colleges, "CEO" of the year, by the American Association of Community College Trustees and the Leadership Award for Outstanding Business/Professional Woman from the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce.
Dr. Harris is very active in her community and has been a Board Member of the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce, the Urban League of Champaign County and served as Campaign Chair of the United Way of Champaign County.She is the first woman to serve as President of Parkland Community College, a duty she served for 16 years. Her leadership has fostered more inclusiveness at Parkland and throughout the community. Parkland hosted the State's first multi-cultural education conference in 1993. She also presented a Commitment to Diversity Resolution to Parkland's Board of Trustees which remains a part of the institution today. In February 2000, Parkland and several community partners hosted the first Black Male Symposium.
She has served on several State and National boards, including the American Association of Community Colleges, the National Council on Black American Affairs- North-Central Region, and the Illinois Human Resource Investment Council/Workforce Investment Board. She previously has served as President of the Illinois Council of Community College Presidents. In February, 2001, Dr. Harris was elected to the American Council on Education.
She is a graduate of the Harvard Institutes for Higher Education, Institute for Educational Management and a Visiting Scholar in the Community College Leadership Program at the University of Texas in Austin. She is currently the Chancellor of St. Louis Community College.