What can you do with an English major, anyway?
There’s an old stereotype that English majors go on to be English teachers. And of course, some do. But they also venture into an unlimited number of other fields and professions.
Take Matthew Harrington ’84, for example. He started an amazing career 28 years ago at Edelman, the world’s largest public relations firm, serving most recently as president of Edelman U.S., working with clients like Starbucks, Samsung, and General Electric. Under Harrington’s leadership, Edelman has expanded beyond the traditional PR realm to become a force in digital and social media—work that earned AdWeek’s coveted Media Agency of the Year award.
But now Harrington’s taking on a new role—a big one. On July 1, he’ll become the firm’s first-ever global chief operating officer, with oversight of all four of its geographical territories: the United States, Europe/Middle East/Africa, Asia-Pacific, and Canada/Latin America.
“Having successfully led our largest operation and run several of our most complicated and important accounts, Matt is uniquely qualified to step in to this new role,” said president and CEO Richard Edelman of Harrington’s new role. “Not only is Matt an exemplary business leader, but he also is a sophisticated practitioner with deep corporate and reputation management experience.”
Despite the demands of such a meteoric career, Harrington has made time to stay involved with his alma mater. After having served as president and member-at-large of the Alumni Council, he joined the Board of Trustees in 2009 as an alumni-nominated trustee. He served on his 25th reunion committee and several campus career panels, and he has sponsored Denison internships at Edelman. In recognition of his professional achievements and service to the college, Denison awarded Harrington its highest distinction for alumni, the Alumni Citation, in 2003.
And just for fun, here are but a few examples of other Denison English majors:
- Michael Eisner ’64, former chair and CEO of Walt Disney Co.
- Alec Alenstein ’93, COO of the Eurasia Group
- Authors Clark Blaise ’61, Frederick Turner ’59 and Pam Houston ’83 (who has a new book out this month called Contents May Have Shifted)
- Northwestern University Associate Professor of English and Gender Studies Jeffrey Masten ’86
- Denison English professors Fred Porcheddu ’87 and Ann Townsend ’85
- Dan Fiden ’97, entrepreneur-in-residence at Signia Ventures
- Poet Alison Stine ’00
- Maggie Glover ’05 of ModCloth
- Abbe Wright ’07, Assistant Editor at O: The Oprah Magazine