USAO News Bureau

MORRIS, Mary Alice

Tuesday, August 17, 1999

Longtime faculty member Mary Alice Morris, who taught at the college from 1953-1981, died August 17, 1999.

 

She earned her bachelor of Science Degree in Household Science from Oklahoma State University in 1938. He earned a Master of Science Degree in Household Science from OSU in 1949.

 

Her first teaching job was at the University of Washington in Seattle, where she taught a foods lab from 1940-41. Next she served as a dietitian with a national youth organization in Wichita, Kan., for two years. In 1945, she returned to teaching at Oklahoma State University, where she worked both in the classroom and as an administrator in the food service at OSU.

 

In 1953, she joined the faculty at the Oklahoma College for Women in Chickasha, Okla. She taught under six college presidents at the school, continuing through the years it was known as the Oklahoma College of Liberal Arts and as it is known today, the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma. She retired in 1981.

 

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TRIBUTE/EULOGY

To the Memory of Mary Alice Morris

Presented by President Roy Troutt

American historian Henry Brooks Adams said, "A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops."

 

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A teacher whose influence spanned four decades and touched thousands of students was Mary Alice Morris. She was one of the few college professors privileged to teach at our university under multiple administrations and three different incarnations of its name. Then-President Dan Procter hired her in January 1953 to teach at the Oklahoma College for Women. She continued on a full-time basis another 28 years -- including the decade it was known as the Oklahoma College of Liberal Arts, and then, into the spring of 1981, long after the school became known as the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma.

 

She would teach under six more university presidents until I had the privilege of meeting her in 1975.

 

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Mary Alice Morris joined the faculty here in January 1953. She taught home economics courses in nutrition, management, equipment and health. She also taught courses in counseling.

Mary Alice spent a good deal of her time as an adviser to freshmen home economics majors. She worked outside the classroom as an adviser to state, local and national home economics associations.
 

Through the years, she served eight different offices, including president, of the Oklahoma Dietetic Association.

 

On campus, she worked with faculty committees on issues important to the whole university community.

 

Off campus, she worked with Chickasha Public Schools to improve school lunch nutrition. She assisted the Jane Brooks School for the Deaf professionally as a dietitian, but also personally as supportive member of the community and caring mother of a deaf son.

 

Her dedication to her students and her profession are reflected even in her personnel file, which shows almost no absences from her work during her many years at USAO.

Her reputation as a classroom teacher was outstanding. But the impact of Mary Alice's life was as great on her colleagues as on her students. I asked some of her former colleagues to share their experiences with her, and here's what I learned…

 

Jimmie Smith, Director Emeritus of Food Services at USAO, said this, and I quote…

"She was like my mother. She was always there for me. Even after she retired, Mary Alice served the university with dedication."

 

"She was my mentor. I was her apprentice. I could not have made it without her. She really gave of herself. Her contract required that she spend a couple of hours each week with me in the food service area. But she did much more than that. She invited me to her home, spent many hours training me, and provided me with valuable books. She literally gave me an education in nutrition."

 

"She was such a positive person. Evidence of that is that kids loved her. Even as she got older, she just wouldn't grow old. She always wanted to stay up on what was new.

"She and her husband loved everyone they ever met. Their home was so much fun that my kids begged to visit the Morris' place."

 

Dr. Charles Scott, Professor of Education and Chair of the Division of Education, calls Mary Alice "an exceptionally kind person." Dr. Scott joined the USAO faculty almost 25 years ago, not long before Mary Alice retired.

 

Myrtle Stevens, who taught home economics for several years before becoming Director of Alumni Affairs at USAO, said this,

"Mary Alice was very professional. But she went beyond professionalism in the classroom; she corresponded with those she respected for more than 40 years. She was considerate and complimentary. In addition to USAO, she was especially dedicated to the Jane Brooks School.

 

Dr. Irene Clements, Professor Emeritus of Home Economics, called her a team-player:

"Mary Alice was one of the finest professors I've ever known. More than that, she was a teacher, the best kind. She was thorough in everything she did. She had a great relationship with her students. She was a good, caring person, easy to work. Besides interacting with students in a positive manner, she knew her subject matter better than anyone. The home economics faculty was a close-knit group. We were like family. And Mary Alice was a key player always."

 

If the philosopher is right, and a teacher affects eternity because he can never tell where his influence stops, then Mary Alice has not stopped living -- in one sense. Her dedication and thoughtfulness continue to be expressed in the lives of successful men and women into whose lives she poured her own.