Curris was born in 1940 in Lexington, Kentucky. He graduated from the University of Kentucky magna cum laude in 1962 with a degree in political science. In 1965 he received an M.A. degree in political science from the University of Illinois, and in 1967 an Ed.D. degree in higher education from the University of Kentucky.
Curris began his work in higher education in 1965 as vice president and dean of the faculty at Midway college in Kentucky. In 1968 he became director of academic programs for the West Virginia Board of Education. From 1969 through 1971 he was dean of student personnel programs at Marshall University in West Virginia, and for the following two years was the vice president and dean of the faculty at the West Virginia Institute of Technology.
In 1973 he began ten years of service as president of Murray State University. After Curris's contract was not continued at Murray State in 1983, he was hired as president of UNI. That same year, the Murray State University Board of Regents named the school's new student center for Curris. He and his wife, Jo, have two children.
Under President Curris's administration, the Business Building, Kamerick Art Building, ROTH, the Center for Energy and Environmental Education, and the Visitor and Information Center were built. In addition, several buildings were remodeled and campus beautification projects improved the appearance of UNI. UNI also gained national recognition for the high quality of its business and education programs, and experienced a record enrollment level in 1991.
President Curris left the university in 1995 to become president of Clemson University in South Carolina. He was succeeded by Robert D. Koob.
On March 18, 1998, the Iowa State Board of Regents approved the renaming of the Business Building in honor of President Curris. The building is now known as the Curris Business Building.
Compiled by Susan Basye; edited by Gerald L. Peterson
Special Collections and University Archives