Honoring a Leader

The Jack Morris Executive Speaker Series

Help honor Jack's leadership and contributions during his 39 years of service to U-Idaho and support the newly renamed Jack Morris Executive Speaker Series. More

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Moscow

College of Business and Economics
University of Idaho
875 Perimeter Drive MS3161
Moscow, Idaho 83844-3161
Phone: (208) 885-6478
Toll free: (800) 960-3033
Email: cbe@uidaho.edu

Jack and Linda Morris in Anatarica

Jack Morris Retirement

In our careers, we climb at an incessant pace until one day we arrive atop a mountain of achievement, where we pause and look back proudly, reflecting on the peaks and valleys of our ascent. Then, we slip off our tattered climbing shoes, toss our hefty load of responsibility aside, and leap into the next phase of our journey we call retirement.

After 39 years of steady climbing at the University of Idaho, Jack Morris, dean of the College of Business and Economics (CBE) since 2006, will plunge into retirement at the end of this year.

“This has been extremely difficult,” says Morris, visibly torn about his decision to retire. “I have a strong emotional tie to the University of Idaho. It is very, very special to me. This feels like saying goodbye to family.”

Saying goodbye to Morris, who has worked under eight of the 17 University of Idaho presidents, will be no less difficult for the CBE community. Morris has guided the college through some of its most difficult economic times. Despite unprecedented budget challenges, he has not only maintained and improved upon the high-quality learning environment for which the CBE has become known, he has instituted programs that have made the college stronger than ever—paving the way for its rising national reputation as a premier business school.

The Ascent

Morris launched his career at the University of Idaho nearly four decades ago as a business analyst and instructor, teaching classes and leading economic development projects on the state’s tribal reservations. The job was his first in academia and the beginning of many subsequent life changes.

“1973 was an arduous year,” recalls Morris, who had left a position with a small business investment company in Oklahoma for the new adventure in Moscow. “I began the job just one month before I married my wife, Linda. In fact, I use our wedding anniversary to remember how long I’ve been with the University,” joking that she would be pleased it’s not the other way around.

He transitioned into the College of Business and Economics in 1980 when the college began to see an increasing demand for graduates in operations management. Recognizing an opportunity to combine his “two loves: finance and industrial engineering,” Morris worked to help establish the college’s degree program in operations management after completing his doctorate from the University of Oklahoma.

“I am very proud of the operations management program,” he says. “Its graduates are consistently in high demand and are leading successful careers in big companies throughout the Northwest, like Micron and Boeing.”

In 1994, Morris was chosen to be part of a selective team of five faculty members who pioneered the college’s Integrated Business Curriculum (IBC), an innovative program in which students spend their entire junior year working in interdisciplinary teams on real-world business projects.

“Being part of the process of developing the IBC was an incredibly rewarding experience, and teaching in it for 10 years was also a major highlight … I can’t say I’ve ever enjoyed teaching as much as I did in that program,” he says.

 During the college’s reaccreditation last year, the IBC was recognized as a “best practice in business education” curriculum by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) International, the world’s top accreditation agency for business schools.

“That was a really exciting moment for me,” he says. “Not only did we earn six additional years of accreditation, which is the best possible result, we were also recognized with distinction in areas we have worked tremendously hard.” The college earned four commendations for curriculum, executive education,
assessment practices, and experiential learning.

Morris took his initial step into leadership in 2001 as the college’s first associate dean and assumed the head post in 2006 following the retirement of then-dean, Byron Dangerfield. During his tenure, Morris has focused heavily on expanding the college’s experiential learning programs – such as Barker Trading Program, Vandal Solutions and student international experiences – as well as developing the college’s executive education programs, including the Executive MBA program.

While his longtime career is enveloped in achievement, Morris points to his students as the primary source of his pride.

“There’s nothing more rewarding than having the opportunity to touch someone’s life through higher education,” he says. “It’s pretty amazing to see students become transformed by the things we teach them, and to be able to follow their successes throughout their lifetime.”

The Plunge

As Morris reflects on his career, he’s clearly conflicted between the somberness of leaving behind his beloved University family of nearly 40 years, and the anticipation of his impending carefree lifestyle.

“As far as I’m concerned, I have the best job at the University, and I know I’ll miss it immensely,” he says. “I get to work with an extraordinary group of faculty, students, and alums, and I absolutely love everything I’m doing right now in the college. But, as my wife points out, there are a lot of things I love that I haven’t been doing.”

That list of things he hasn’t been doing – but will soon have more time to tackle – includes fly-fishing, camping, hiking, skiing, rafting and a myriad of other outdoor activities he and Linda, a CBE emeritus professor who retired from the University after 36 years, easily enjoy from their home on 45 scenic acres in New Meadows, Idaho, a small mountain community near McCall.

“Next summer, I plan to visit a different lake every week … and to test the intellect of the trout in those lakes,” he says with a grin.

 His retirement will also afford him the flexibility to take advantage of fresh-powder days at Brundage Mountain Ski Resort.

 “I’ve held a season pass for three years. This year I plan to actually use it,” chuckles Morris, who hopes to keep on pace with Linda’s 62 visits to the slopes last year.

Avid travelers, the Morrises are planning a photo safari trip to Africa, where they also hope to reconnect with the Masasi locals Linda met several years ago when working on a clean-water project through the University of Idaho.

Morris expects to remain active in the University as a dean emeritus. President Nellis has asked Jack to work on projects designed to promote a more entrepreneurial university. He will also continue on as a board member for the Barker Dangerfield Wealth Management Fund which oversees the Barker Capital
Management and Trading Program.

He and Linda also plan to regularly attend football games and to support University fundraising efforts and alumni social events.

The Legacy

Morris’ retirement is bittersweet, but he is confident that there is no better time than now to pass the torch.

“The college is positioned extremely well,” he says. “We are in a stable budget situation with the state, we have experienced outstanding growth in enrollments at every level – including the recruitment of new freshmen, transfers, graduate students, and the retention of existing students – and programs like the EMBA
and UEC are growing strong.

“All of these factors indicate that the college is poised for a very successful future,” he continues. “It’s a good time for a transition in leadership.”

His advice to his successor can be summarized in one word: “listen.”

“It’s so important to listen and communicate honestly with everyone –not only with your faculty, staff, students, and alumni, but also with your external stakeholders,” he explains. “Your role as dean is to support your faculty and staff –and to provide them with everything they need to be successful –for one purpose only: to make sure students have a great experience at the University.”

 Revered for his hands-on leadership style and unwavering commitment to students, Morris will undoubtedly leave a lasting legacy.

“My hope is that I’ve had some small part in touching young people’s lives through our curriculum in CBE,” he says. “I want to be remembered as Professor Morris, not as Dean Morris, because being a professor is one of the most noble professions there is.”