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Greg Harris

Drugovich, Cuomo, Harris Rose To Meet Crisis


Drugovich, Cuomo,

Harris Rose To Meet Crisis

That’s the spirit.

Margaret Drugovich’s latest Sunday YouTube video (linked on was like clouds opening and the sun shining through. Watch it. You’ll feel a lot better about the near-term future.

As Drugovich has proved again and again in her 12-year tenure as Hartwick College president, she’s a gutsy lady.  A leader. A tough one, and an inspirational one.

First, even though the COVID-19 threat is quickly diminishing – yes, it could rebound – it’s gutsy to decide this far out (mid-June) to move forward (late August), and to pair that decision with a tightly reasoned plan.

Drugovich will provide more particulars on her weekly video this coming Sunday, the 28th, but one provision that’s emerged so far is tough-minded and reassuring: As campus reopens Aug. 22, all members of the college community will have to read and sign “Our Social Compact: A Healthy Hartwick College,” requiring them to wear masks, social-distance and adhere to other safety-assuring (but not safety-ensuring) measures.

“We just don’t think individuals have the right to put other people at risk,” Drugovich asserted.

That’s leadership: Moving forward forcefully, reopening the campus, even while understanding the virus will still be with us. Mum SUNY Oneonta is a sad contrast.

President Drugovich is not alone. There are other examples of, yes, leaders. People who are not rash, but not frozen by fear or adversity, moving to reopen their enterprises sensibly, but with an understanding there will be setbacks.

There will be successes, but some failures are inevitable. And yet they act.

Governor Cuomo, of course, is a sterling national example of what people hope for in time of crisis. He didn’t choke, even when faced with hundreds of deaths and mass graves in the world’s greatest city, a challenge that would stagger most people.

He focused on data, and didn’t panic as the data worsened, even though his face became more ashen and the bags grew under his eyes. When the numbers didn’t drop as badly as predicted, then rebounded, he didn’t hesitate to reopen our Empire State, step by determined step.

He communicated, which Drugovich considers critical, too. And his daily briefings, he brags, attracted 59 million viewers. “There are only 18 million people in New York,” he exclaimed in awe and delight.

How good a governor is Andrew Cuomo? Mixed at best, his Buffalo Billion buffeted by corruption and imprisonment of close associates, his support for truly awful legislation – the Green Light Bill and “bail reform” come to mind – and choking off natural gas from energy-starved portions of the state.

But when he needed to step up, he did.

(Bill De Blasio’s dilly-dallying and erratic President Trump didn’t fare as well.)

Another example in a more limited sphere is Greg Harris, the CGP graduate who rose to president of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. From the day that Hall was forced to shut down, he sprang into action, focusing on what would be needed to reopen again, the no-touch doors, temperature checks, no dead-end exhibits and more, as our managing editor, Libby Cudmore, reported last week. The Rock Hall opened Monday, June 15.

You can even include restaurateurs Brian Wrubleski at Cooperstown’s Mel’s at 22, or Mike Joubert at Oneonta’s Wise Guys Sammy’s, the sandwich shop. They doubled-down on takeout and promotion, and no doubt got through the crisis better than many. Inspiring stuff.

People like Drugovich, Cuomo, Harris, Wrubleski and Joubert aren’t reckless or dismissive of troubles ahead.

Drugovich put it this way: “It would be magical thinking that we won’t have the virus in the fall. We WILL have the virus in the fall. We’re going to have to learn to cope with it.”

They’re just brave enough and bold enough – and sufficiently prudent – to move forward because they have to – as do the rest of us – despite expected pitfalls certain to come.

Hall ROCKIN’ Again Rock Hall Of Fame Pushed To Open As Soon As Possible

Hall ROCKIN’ Again

Rock Hall Of Fame Pushed

To Open As Soon As Possible

Healthcare workers got in free on Sunday, June 14, one day before the official Rock & Roll Hall of Fame reopening. (Photo courtesy Rock & Roll Hall of Fame)

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

‘Walk This Way.” “Don’t Stand So Close To Me.” “Check Your Head.”

These aren’t just favorite albums and songs – they’re directives on how to enjoy the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, which reopened this past Monday, June 15.

Who is that masked man? Greg Harris, formerly of Cooperstown, Rock Hall of Fame president.

“Museums and museum professionals think about this all the time,” said Hall President Greg Harris, an alumnus of both the Cooperstown Graduate School and the Baseball Hall of Fame.

How to create a flow – the do’s and dont’s of touching artifacts – so in this heightened moment, museums are perfectly positioned to work with these stringent guidelines, but still create a memorable experience.”

When the COVID-19 pandemic closed the museum in March, Harris and his staff began working on plans to reopen.

“We put together a task force and got in touch with museums all over the country,” he said.

We were working with the CDC recommendations, as well as recommendations from the American Association of Museums, which has been very involved in shaping those requirements for us.”

A new online ticketing system was built, allowing guests to buy tickets via the Internet ahead of time for a specific time slot to ensure that the museum is not over capacity. Touch-free sliding glass doors were installed, and floor decals were placed throughout the museum to allow visitors to proceed safely.

Dead-end galleries, like the one that housed Vans Warped Tour, were closed, he said.

Paying homage to the Beastie Boys, signage throughout the museum encourages social distancing.

Visitors and employees will be subject to temperature screenings by nursing students hired by the museum. “If your temperature is over 100, you can’t come in,” he said. “And masks will be required. If you come without a mask, we’ll give you one.”

Or, he said, souvenir masks are available in the gift shop.

In addition to the museum itself, there were dining, retail and theater spaces to consider, each with its own set of regulations.

“All the surveys we did said that people were more inclined to be outdoors,” he said. “We’ve reconfigured our beer garden and food trucks, and we’re going to start having live music, which a lot of people have missed.”

Among those slated to play live performances are his son, Cooperstown native Jack Harris, whose song “No One Listens” has received radio airplay in Cleveland.

In the theaters, every other row will be cordoned off to best accommodate social distancing.

Last Sunday, June 13, the first guests were welcomed to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in a free event for health care workers and their families.

“We’re reopening as a stronger museum,” said Harris.

Son Of Rock Hall’s President Has His Cooperstown Debut


Son Of Rock Hall’s President

Has His Cooperstown Debut

Guitarist Jack Harris returned to his native Cooperstown to perform at the Beverage Exchange Friday. Here he is with dad, Greg Harris, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame president. (Ian Austin/

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

Jack Harris performs Friday, Dec. 27, at the Cooperstown Beverage Exchange. (Bill Francis photo)

COOPERSTOWN – Growing up, Jack Harris would jam on the drums while his father, Greg, president of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, played guitar.

“We always had guitars around the home” said Greg. “Our daughter Alex plays piano, and his mom Deirdre sings Irish songs. We played a lot of albums for them, and he had nicknames for all of them. ‘The Pirate’ was Van Morrison, ‘The Growly Guy’ was Tom Waits. I tried to expose him to good music.”

In high school, Jack, got into writing poetry and short stories, and needed a musical outlet more conducive to his newfound passion. “I picked up a guitar and taught myself a few chords,” he said. “Then I taught myself a few songs, like John Fullbright’s ‘Unlocked Doors.’”

Jack, now a freshman at Ohio University, made his local debut Friday, Dec. 27, at the Cooperstown Beverage Exchange. “It was a lot of fun,” he said. “There were a lot of familiar faces, old friends and their parents. It was great to share my passion with them.”

Jack was born in Cooperstown and lived her until he was 8 years old, when his father, a CGP graduate then working for the Baseball Hall of Fame, accepted the top  job at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. “We come back every summer and Christmas,” said Jack.

In Cleveland, he met Chris Allen, of the band Falling Stars. “He knew I’d been learning some songs, so he called me up and asked me to play one,” said Jack. “I played him a couple covers, and then he said, ‘Do you have any originals?’”

He only had pieces right then, but got to work finishing some original compositions “And the next time I saw him, he was in the studio recording my song!”

With Falling Stars, Jack recorded “I Get Lost” and “Song For You” and “Hold On To Me” at Peppermint Studios, and released a video for “No One Listens” on YouTube. “Just two weeks ago, we heard my song ‘No One Listens’ on The Summit, the local radio station in Akron,” he said.

He played gigs with Falling Stars, as well as solo performances, including a coveted spot at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s “100 Days of Music” summer live music series.

“A big chunk of that is local singer-songwriters,” said Greg. “They can play a few covers, but we want it to be all originals, no tribute or party bands. And I told him that Lisa Vinciquerra” – the Hall’s production manager – has to book him!”

The 100 Days of Summer also attracts larger touring acts, including Interpol and John Mellancamp, who, when passing through the area, decided to hop on stage and play five songs. “He used the instruments of the band that was on before him!” said Greg.

The Hall also hosted the Catch Meaning Festival on its  grounds, and Jack was booked without having to go through Vinciquerra. “He knew some of the people involved,” said Greg. “They asked him to play, and I didn’t even know about it!”

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is set to announce its  2020 Induction Class, and celebrate their 25th anniversary this year. “We want to make every day feel like a festival,” said Greg. “It’s not a museum about yesterday, it’s alive today.”

They’ll once again have a summer series, and Jack hopes to play, as well as look into internship possibilities at the Hall. “I want him to see that songwriters are regular people who walk among us,” said Greg. “Whether they do it for a living or if performing is their day job, it’s a great way to express yourself.”

Jack’s songs are on Apple Music, Spotify and his website,, and he is hoping to get back in the studio. “My next step is finding someone to work with on an album project,” he said. “I’ve been doing a lot of writing the past few months.”

Panel Explores Ritts’ Life, Legacy and Impact

Panel Explores Ritts’

Life, Legacy and Impact

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame president Greg Harris, pictured at right, was the moderator of this afternoon’s panel discussion on the “Fenimore Rocks! Herb Ritts and the Image of Rock Music” exhibit currently on display at the Fenimore Art Museum. The talk, which featured Rory Ritts, Herb Ritts’ brother, Laurie Kratochvil, photography director at Rolling Stone, and music historian John Covach, pictured above, who discussed the work of Ritts and took questions from the audience. (Ian Austin/

Rock Hall’s Greg Harris Blending Old Stars, New

Rock Hall’s Greg Harris Blending Old Stars, New

By LIBBY CUDMORE•The Freeman’s Journal

Edition of Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014

Rock Hall president Greg Harris, ’93, shares a laugh with Jim Havener, ’83, at the CGP Alumni Reception Saturday, Oct. 11. (Jim Kevlin/The Freeman's Journal)
Rock Hall president Greg Harris, ’93, shares a laugh with Jim Havener, ’83, at the CGP Alumni Reception Saturday, Oct. 11. (Jim Kevlin/The Freeman’s Journal)

When Greg Harris, ’93, was a Cooperstown Graduate Program “first year,” he may not have known that what he did in his free time would be as important to his career as what he did in the classroom. “We were always out going to see bands in Oneonta, Cherry Valley,” he said. “We spent as much time in the community as we did in the classroom.”

In December 2012, Greg Harris, who rose to vice president of development at the Baseball Hall of Fame, was named the president of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio.

He maintains a home in Fly Creek, and was back in Cooperstown Friday-Sunday, Oct. 10-12, among 25 alums and spouses at the 50th anniversary of the CGP. “It’s great to be back in Cooperstown, seeing alums and family,” he said. “When you’re in a small town and a two-year program, you get to know each other really well.”

While in the graduate program, he did his community service project at Brookwood, helped archive CGP founder Louis Jones’ files and put together an oral history on the Cooperstown Diner. “I spoke to all the owners from the 1920s to the early ’90s,” he said of the latter. “I talked to regulars. It was a big project.”

That spirit of community has helped influence Harris’ new strategic plan at the Rock Hall. “We want to know who our visitors are and make changes to exhibitions to reflect that,” he said. “We want Lady GaGa and Bruno Mars to be in the same space as the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. More people can come see these artists, and it will be more relevant to younger visitors.”

Under his new plan, curators work with educators, marketing and digital media to create exhibitions. “We want to engage, teach and inspire through the power of rock & roll,” he said.

This year, Harris presided over the Induction ceremony for the first time, held in Los Angeles. It featured Randy Newman, Heart, Public Enemy and Rush. Next May, he will host his first induction in Cleveland. “I’m very excited about this year’s ballot,” he said. “There’s a lot of older artists who haven’t been recognized yet” – Lou Reed, The Spinners, The Marvellettes among them – “and some newer artists” – Sting, Green Day, The Smiths and Nine-Inch Nails. “It’s a big statement that rock & roll isn’t something that’s from a long time ago. It’s alive.”

Harris has also bolstered relationships with inductees so that they know they are welcome even if they aren’t on the stage. “They need to know that they are part of the story of rock & roll,” he said. “It’s something the Baseball Hall of Fame does really well with their induction ceremonies, and it’s already showing great results.”


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