William E. Morgan, one of Colorado’s foremost leaders in higher education, died March 17, 2005, in Fort Collins. He was 95. A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. March 21 at the Edna Rizley Griffin Concert Hall in the University Center for the Arts, 1400 Remington St., in Fort Collins.
"President Morgan clearly set the standard for all of us who have been fortunate enough to follow in his footsteps," said Colorado State University President Larry Edward Penley. "He was a man of great vision and even greater humility, who was as loved as he was admired by those who knew and worked with him. Yolanda and I have felt truly privileged to have the opportunity to know and learn from him over these past two years – a feeling I know we share with so many on our campus and in our community who have valued his friendship and stood in awe of his indomitable spirit.
"President Morgan served our nation through his distinguished work with the New Deal and the Marshall Plan, but perhaps his greatest legacy is the imprint he left on our own campus. He led the transformation of Colorado’s agricultural college into a full-fledged university, and fought tirelessly for the growth and welfare of this institution throughout the decades he served in the president’s chair."
William Edgeworth Morgan was born May 30, 1909, in Fort Worth, Texas, the next-to-youngest of eight children of Emma Dorcas Bushong, who was from a large family in Grapevine, Texas, and Robert Burt Morgan, a Baptist minister and a man devoted to the land.
After he graduated from Texas A&M in 1930, Dr. Morgan was commissioned at the age of 21 as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Corps Reserves. In 1933, he earned his master’s degree at the University of California-Berkeley, and in that same year, he married Lilla Graham Bryan of Bryan, Texas, on Dec. 31. She preceded him in death on Aug. 16, 1991.
His graduate study at Harvard, where he was enrolled as a Rockefeller Fellow, was interrupted when he reported to active duty with the Army Air Corps following the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. Initially assigned to air staff duty at the Pentagon, he spent the last half of his four-year tour of active duty in the China-Burma-India theater.
During the depression years following his graduation from college, Dr. Morgan served as assistant registrar of Texas A&M College, then as a junior economist, U.S. Department of Agriculture, in the first Franklin Roosevelt administration. He taught economics at the University of Texas and, in 1936, joined the staff of Texas A&M as extension economist.
After World War II ended, he became president of Arkansas A&M College in Monticello, Arkansas, in 1946. While there, he was sent to France on a year’s emergency leave to assist with initial operations of the Marshall Plan, an aid plan proposed by Secretary of State George C. Marshall in 1947 to provide relief to war-torn Europe.
Dr. Morgan, who became the eighth president of Colorado A&M on Oct. 1, 1949,
was instrumental in strengthening academic and graduate programs at the institution. One result of those efforts was the eventual name change to Colorado State University in 1957, which was authorized by the Colorado General Assembly.
Colorado was in the midst of a vast growth period during Dr. Morgan’s tenure as president, and burgeoning enrollments in the state’s elementary and secondary schools presaged an overwhelming impact on higher education. These were issues that Dr. Morgan anticipated and planned for, and which resulted in a vastly expanded campus and curriculum.
He was instrumental in adding and expanding campus buildings and facilities. In 1949, facilities inventory was valued at about $6.6 million. In 1969, the value had increased to almost $102 million. During his tenure, construction was completed on athletic facilities, engineering center, chemistry annex, plant and animal sciences buildings, additions to the student center, faculty apartments, several residence halls and Eddy Hall. Morgan also played a key role in obtaining funds for a new library building, named in his honor when it opened in 1965.
Over the course of 30 years, he served on the boards of directors of three federally chartered financial institutions and as a presidential appointee to the Board of Directors of Federal Prison Industries, Inc.
He held honorary degrees from the University of Peshawar, Pakistan; the University of Denver; A&M College of Texas; New Mexico State University; and Colorado State University. At the conclusion of his service to Colorado State, the State Board of Agriculture awarded him the distinction of President Emeritus.
He also was a director for 21 years of Poudre Valley National Bank (now Wells Fargo) and for 23 years as a director of the Fort Collins Federal Savings and Loan Association. Other board memberships included Four Mills of America, Inc.; Pat Griffin Company, Inc., of Fort Collins; and Capitol Federal Savings and Loan Association of Wyoming.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Lilla Bryan Morgan. Survivors include his daughter, Dorcas M. Murray, and his son, Bryan Morgan, both of Boulder, Colorado; his sister, Dorcas M. Larrabee, Austin, Texas; six grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions may be made to the Colorado State University Foundation, P. O. Box 1870, Fort Collins CO 80522-1870, designating either the Morgan Library Endowment or the William E. Morgan Endowed Chair in Liberal Arts.