Commerce – A key member within the Texas A&M University-Commerce family was lost Thursday, as President Emeritus Jerry Morris died at his home in Cotter, Arkansas.
The university flag was at half-staff Friday as Dr. Morris, the ninth president of A&M-Commerce, died after a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 73.
Morris is survived by his wife, Marilyn, and four children: Joseph, Neil, Laura, and Kara. A graveside service is scheduled for Sunday, December 14, 2008, at 10:00 a.m. at the Walnut Hill Cemetery in Cotter, Arkansas. The family will have a memorial service in Commerce next month at a date to be determined.
The following biographical information was submitted by the President's Office at Texas A&M University-Commerce:
Morris received a B.S.E. in physical education, 1960; M.Ed. in educational administration, 1964; Ed.D. in educational administration, 1971 - all from the University of Arkansas.
Shortly after receiving his bachelor's degree, Morris worked as a high school teacher in his hometown of Cotter, Arkansas where he taught mathematics, history and health, and coached basketball and baseball. He later served as high school principal there.
A junior high school principal, high school principal and assistant superintendent for the Mountain Home school district in Mountain Home, Arkansas from 1963 - 1969, Morris also served one year as editor of the "Arkansas School Boards" newsletter.
He joined the East Texas State University (ETSU) staff as director of placement in 1970. In 1971, he became dean of admissions and records. He served in this position until 1973, when he became dean of the graduate school, a position he held for nine years.
Vice president for academic affairs at ETSU from May 1982 until December 1986, he became the ninth president and chief executive officer on January 1, 1987. ETSU joined The Texas A&M University System on September 1, 1996 and was renamed Texas A&M University-Commerce.
Some of his memberships during his presidency include service on the Council of Presidents and Board of Trustees of the Alliance for Higher Education; Council of Trustees, Dallas Education Center; chairman, Lone Star Athletic Conference Council of Presidents; chairman, Texas International Education Consortium Board of Directors; vice chair, Council of Public University Presidents and Chancellors and past chair of that organization's State Affairs Committee; and member, American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) Committee on Cultural Diversity and Social Change.
He also served The Texas A&M University System as a member of the Chancellor's 21st Century Council of Advisors and served on the Texas A&M University Press Advisory Committee. Prior to his passing, memberships in civic organizations included the Executive Board of the Northeast Texas Southeast Oklahoma Trails Council of the Boy Scouts of America; Commerce Economic Development Board; Hunt County Economic Development Committee and the Lions Club.
He has received numerous awards and recognitions, including the Outstanding Young Educator award in 1965, the Outstanding Young Man of America in 1967, a Distinguished Community Service Award in 1977, Commerce Employer of the Year in 1993 and Commerce Visionary Award in 1997.
In recognition of his long and distinguished service to Texas A&M University-Commerce, the title of President Emeritus was conferred upon Dr. Morris at the December 4, 1997 meeting of the Board of Regents of The Texas A&M University System.