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ASU mourns Morrison Institute, Morrison School namesake

February 09, 2007

The East Valley lost a pioneer Feb 5, when Marvin Morrison of Gilbert, Ariz., passed away, but his legacy will continue to make an impression on the East Valley, the state and ASU for generations to come.

Morrison and his wife, June, have served Arizona in a distinguished capacity as cotton farmers, range cattlemen and dairymen. They have supported their community through volunteer activities and financial contributions for more than 50 years.

Morrison was tireless in sharing his time, knowledge and skills with his community, and pursuing the promotion of programs fostering the development of young people.

At ASU, that investment manifested itself with the establishment of two key programs: the Morrison School of Management and Agribusiness, and the Morrison Institute for Public Policy.

In the fall of 1998, the Morrisons made a generous gift of farm property in Gilbert to ASU to help further the success of young people in what then was called the School of Agribusiness and Resource Management. The gift provided the resources to establish an endowed chair, and to sustain faculty and programs in the school. In recognition of the gift, ASU named the school after the Morrisons.

This spring, the Morrison School of Management and Agribusiness will award the Marvin and June Morrison Chair in Agribusiness and Resource Management to one of the nation's leading agribusiness scholars. The school also will award the Marvin and June Morrison Scholarship to students majoring in agribusiness. In addition to helping these students attain their educational goals, it will help prepare leaders for tomorrow.

“Marvin was our friend, our adviser, our student and our supporter,” says Paul Patterson, dean of the school. “He was committed to improving our community and helping our students. We will strive to honor his dedication to Arizona and the agribusiness community.”

The Morrisons also wanted to create a resource to help ensure a quality future for Arizona and were instrumental in the development of the Morrison Institute for Public Policy at ASU. The Morrison Institute was established in 1982 through a grant from the couple in response to the state's growing need for objective research on issues of public policy. Since then, the Morrison Institute has conducted important work on a wide range of topics, including education reform, water resources, health care, human services, urban growth, government structure, arts and culture, technology, quality of life, public finance, the environment and economic development.

“Marvin Morrison was a man with absolutely amazing fortitude, grace and vision,” says Rob Melnick, who has directed the Morrison Institute for more than 20 years. “He and his wife, June, were true partners, and together, an inspirational force behind decisions to invest in the future of Arizona through public policy research. Marvin's extraordinary good humor and vibrant leadership will be greatly missed.”

Morrison earned a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in agribusiness from ASU, and in 1992 he was recognized with the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters for his numerous contributions to ASU and the state. He volunteered his time by serving on numerous boards and was a member of several organizations relating to the farming industry, education, energy and conservation.

Morrison twice was named Man of the Year in Arizona Agriculture and holds the National Partner in 4-H Award from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

He was quoted as saying, “There is an old Indian saying that a man is not measured by what he has, but what he gives away, and I really believe that!”

His legacy to Arizona is proof of that.