Morris selected for Harris Rising Star award from VFIC

This article was featured in the Roanoke Magazine, Issue 2, 2013. The full issue can be seen here.

Dr.  Chad Morris, assistant professor of anthropology, has been selected as the recipient of this year's inaugural Hiter H. Harris, Jr. Rising Star Award from the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges (VFIC). Each of the fifteen colleges in the VFIC was allowed to nominate one candidate for the award, and Dr. Morris' selection was based on four criteria: his impact on and involvement with undergraduate students; his scholarly approach to teaching and learning; his contributions to undergraduate education in the institution, community, and profession; and endorsements from colleagues and current and former students.

"His remarkable success inside and outside of the classroom, his considerable standing among his colleagues within the College and in his profession, and his deep commitment to scholarship that seeks to improve the lives of others set him apart as someone very special and deserving of this award,"  Dr. Richard Smith, vice president and dean of the College, said.

"One measure of Chad's success as a teacher and advisor is the growth in student interest in anthropology," says Smith. "Since his arrival a little over four years ago, the number of students pursuing our anthropology concentration has grown from just a handful to over forty." It is largely because of Morris' efforts, in fact, that the College plans to expand the scope of its anthropology program.

The Harris Award includes a stipend to support the recipient's scholarly research and professional-development activities, and Morris plans to use the stipend to aid the College's ongoing research work in the Pacific island Republic of Palau. Roanoke College has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Palauan Ministry of Health to perform research on nutrition-based health issues, and Roanoke students have journeyed there under Morris' leadership for a May Term Intensive Learning class. He is working with Chaplain Chris Bowen to raise funds to help the nation recover from the recent devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan, which first touched land in Palau. Funds raised will be sent to Palau for the purchase of tools, such as chain saws, machetes, and hand saws, as well as radio air time for public service announcements.           

Morris is a native of Oldham County, Kentucky and Urbana, Ohio, and a graduate of Centre College; he received his master's degree from the University of Memphis and his Ph.D. from the University of Kentucky.

The Harris Award was created through an endowment gift from the family of the late Hiter Harris Jr., a leading Virginia banker and a member of VFIC's board from 1973 to 1998. The Harris family endowed the award to highlight the special features of VFIC colleges and universities by recognizing faculty members "whose professional history reflects a strong, clear and abiding commitment to excellence in classroom teaching within the undergraduate liberal arts and sciences."

 The VFIC, founded in 1952, is a nonprofit organization that raises funds and coordinates collaborative programs to strengthen 15 leading independent colleges and universities in Virginia, including Roanoke College. The VFIC has generated over $145 million to strengthen Virginia's independent college sector and is nationally recognized for the innovative projects and programs it has developed for these institutions.

Released: November 22, 2013
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