Posted by Pamela Bratton on Mar 27, 2018

What is a Paul Harris Fellowship?

The Paul Harris Fellow recognition acknowledges individuals who contribute, or who have contributions made in their name, of US$1,000 to The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International.
 
It was established in 1957 to show appreciation for and encourage substantial contributions to what was then the Foundation’s only program, Rotary Foundation Fellowships for Advanced Study, the precursor to Ambassadorial Scholarships. 
The first Paul Harris Fellows include 1937-38 RI Director Allison G. Brush and longtime RI Treasurer Rufus F. Chapin, both for donations made in 1946. Mrs. Adan Vargas was the first woman to receive the recognition, for a gift made in 1953. Mrs. Harry L. Jones was the second, and one of only five people recognized for contributions made in 1957. 
 
Early Paul Harris Fellows received a certificate of recognition. In 1969, the Foundation unveiled the first Paul Harris Fellow medallion at the RI Convention in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA. Japanese metal artist Fiju Tsuda created the piece under the direction of then-past Foundation Trustee Kyozo Yuasa. Today, Paul Harris Fellows receive a certificate and pin. They are also eligible to purchase a Paul Harris Fellow medallion. 
 
Rotarians have a tradition of supporting the Foundation by honoring others. Ida LeTulle Taylor became a Paul Harris Fellow in 1978 when her husband, then-District Governor Vann Taylor, made a donation in her name in honor of their 34th wedding anniversary. The gift also made her the 25,000th Paul Harris Fellow. 
 
At the International Assembly in 1979, then-RI President-elect James Bomar challenged each Rotary club to make one non-Rotarian a Paul Harris Fellow. The Rotary Club of Pikesville, Maryland, USA, responded by making a donation in the name of Mother Teresa in 1980. The entertainer Pearl Bailey also became a Paul Harris Fellow through a joint effort of the Rotary clubs in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  
 
Many other notable figures have been named as Paul Harris Fellows, including U.S. President Jimmy Carter, Russian President Boris Yeltsin, U.S. astronaut James Lovell, UN Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar, and Jonas Salk.  

 

So, what is a Paul Harris Fellow? Think for a moment of this statement: "A Paul Harris Fellow means whatever you want it to mean." Should The Rotary Foundation accept a $1000 contribution as a way to honor a person for exceptional service? Certainly.

 

Should The Rotary Foundation accept a gift of $1000 as an expression of happiness for 20 years of marriage, or a new grandchild, or success in one's vocation or family life? Of course.

 

Should The Rotary Foundation accept a $1000 contribution in memory of a friend, relative or associate who has been an important asset to your life? Certainly.

 

Should The Rotary Foundation accept $1000 if you really believe in the tremendous value of the humanitarian work of TRF in developing parts of the world and thereby express appreciation for your gift by naming you a Paul Harris Fellow or multi-PHF? Absolutely.

 

So, I suggest that a Paul Harris Fellow can mean whatever you wish it to mean. The Rotary Foundation benefits from your contribution and demonstrates this appreciation through the mechanism of a Paul Harris Fellow. That is the way I see it."

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