Editor’s note: This story is featured in the 2023 year in review.
In 1998, Marvin and June Morrison envisioned a groundbreaking school that would recognize the intersection of agriculture and business. Twenty-five years later, the Morrison School of Agribusiness at Arizona State University’s W. P. Carey School of Business remains the only agribusiness institution within the top 30 business schools.
Recently, W. P. Carey and Morrison School leaders, members of the Morrison family and friends of the schools came together to celebrate that legacy and vision on ASU’s Polytechnic campus.
The Morrison School’s journey has been one of continuous evolution and adaptation. The school began as an agribusiness unit within ASU’s engineering school before moving to ASU East (now the Polytechnic campus) in 1996. In 1998, the school was named in the Morrison family’s honor, and in 2009 was integrated into the W. P. Carey School of Business. The school navigated the ever-changing landscape of agribusiness with resilience and foresight.
Troy Schmitz, director and professor at the Morrison School, said, “Today we celebrate not only the institution but the countless individuals, faculty, staff, students and supporters who have played an integral role in shaping the Morrison School's legacy. Our success over the past 25 years can be attributed to a few key pillars: visionary leadership, dedicated faculty, motivated students, industry partnerships and a commitment to innovation. These elements have come together to create an academic environment that not only imparts knowledge, but also fosters a spirit of inquiry, creativity and a passion for making a meaningful impact in the world.”
The Morrison School has been a pioneer in forging partnerships that transcend traditional boundaries and embrace interdisciplinary collaboration. Its commitment to collaboration allows researchers to tackle complex challenges such as food security, global climate change, global food supply, chain efficiency, water scarcity, renewable energy and distribution of healthy foods to provide a sustainable future. As evidence of this thought leadership, Morrison School faculty received almost $3 million in grants from the United States Department of Agriculture just last summer.
“The Morrison School of Agribusiness plays an important role in our strategic plan,” said Ohad Kadan, Charles J. Robel Dean of the W. P. Carey School. “It is a leader at W. P. Carey in producing research and knowledge that have a genuine impact on the world around us, on our environment and on our society. For 25 years, the Morrison School has been educating agribusiness leaders, disseminating cutting-edge, user-inspired and impactful research, and developing solutions for challenging agricultural issues.”
Richard Morrison, the eldest son of Marvin and June and a member of the W. P. Carey Dean’s Council, joined his mother and brother, Scott, for the event. Richard is also co-founder and emeritus director of the ASU Morrison Institute for Public Policy and the Kyl Center for Water Policy at ASU. Richard shared his family’s deep connections to the East Valley, where the Morrison family farmed for generations, and to ASU.
“I'm happy to tell you that the naming of the school symbolizes one of the most important decisions my parents ever made,” Richard said. “We hope and trust the vision of the founders of ASU Polytechnic and the Morrison School will continue unabated, and our family joins you in wishing everyone connected with the school great success. Many thanks to all who have supported the Morrison School for what you may help accomplish in the future.”
“You can rest assured that the Morrison School will continue preparing students to contribute to feeding a hungry world by combining expertise and all facets of business applied to agriculture,” Schmitz said. “Together as a community dedicated to access, excellence, innovation and positive impact, we can look forward to the next 25 years with optimism and determination.”
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