Whether you’re preparing for a final exam in college or trying to gain entry into the high stakes world of trading, the concept is similar: Study hard, and prepare adequately in advance. These are the wise words of Nancy Morris ’83, a graduate of the College of Law and secretary of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
An education at the University of Idaho yielded strong returns for Morris. By investing in her University of Idaho education, she has been able to gain strong leadership skills that have proven essential in her career, and ultimately led her to a top position at the SEC based in Washington, D.C.
Morris has held the position of SEC secretary since January 2006 – the first woman to hold the post. Her previous role was as attorney-fellow in the commission’s Division of Investment Management. She also held numerous other roles at the SEC from 1985-92. During her career, Morris has worked in the private sector as vice president and associate legal counsel to the investment management firm, T. Rowe Price Associates, and as an attorney for Fidelity Investments. She also served as an associate for Sutherland, Asbill and Brennan, a Washington, D.C.-based law firm.
Morris has stayed connected to the College of Law through the years. She currently serves on the College of Law Advisory Board. "Nancy has made history as the first woman to serve as secretary of the SEC, one of the most important positions of legal responsibility in the nation's capitol. Last year, she received the Award of Legal Merit from our law faculty,” says College of Law Dean, Don Burnett.
During visits to her alma mater, Morris meets with a new generation of law leaders. She always tells students that the education she received in Moscow has provided a strong foundation for all of her accomplishments at the national level, according to Burnett.
Idaho definitely provided life lessons on a grand scale. “The University of Idaho taught me not to limit myself,” she says. The solid foundation at the University of Idaho also provided her with the right amount of confidence and the tools to interact with colleagues from Ivy League institutions. At the University of Idaho, “I gained strong leadership skills and a wealth of confidence.”
Perhaps one of her keys to success is the careful balance of work and play. As a law student at the University of Idaho, Morris enjoyed holiday socials like the annual law school Halloween party. After dealing with a challenging course load and her role as editor-in-chief of the Idaho Law Review, a low-key gathering with peers seemed to be the perfect antidote to stress. And, it surely was a lasting memory.
Returning to the Moscow campus, she always stops by the Albertson Building to visit older brother, Jack, who is dean of the College of Business and Economics.
Jack is quite proud of his sister. “Her current position as the secretary of the SEC comes at a time when financial markets are in disarray and in need of renewed regulatory guidance,” he says. “I can’t think of anyone else that I’d rather have serving as a leader in government during these difficult times than my sister,” he added.
No matter where University of Idaho alumni reside – across the United States or around the globe – their focus always returns to Moscow, Idaho, the starting point for stories of success and a place where leaders are made.