WINNER OF THE DISTINGUISHED FACULTY AWARD GIVES THANKS TO HONORS COLLEGE

Bill Morris Shares Experience With Honors College In Regards to Award

Each year, the Honors College recognizes one faculty member for their hard work and dedication to the Honors College and its students. With so many faculty that do so much for

Image
Bill Morris Headshot
the students, it can be difficult to choose one winner. William “Bill” Morris was selected as this year’s winner of the Distinguished Honors Faculty Award, which is voted on by current Honors College students and presented during the Annual Senior Honors Luncheon. Since joining the Golden Flash family in 2011 to pursue a Doctoral degree, Morris has made a lasting impact on students and their experiences. In his four years of working in the Honors College, he has instructed College Writing one and two, as well as a section of Freshman Honors Colloquium on comedy.

Originally from Northern California, Kelseyville, Morris has been living with his spouse and child in Kent and calls Kent home. As a faculty member at a higher education institution, Morris  shares his own experience with college. “I didn’t know much about college as a young man. I was told it was a place people went to get a better job, to gain access to a life not lost to manual labor, and without any college graduates in my family, it was a mysterious place to me,” said Morris. “I enrolled in Santa Rosa Junior College, which was close to where I grew-up, but far enough away to strike-out on my own. After I spent a bit longer at the JC than is typical because I didn’t have an educational goal as such, (I spent a year in a program through the JC working abroad in London, U.K. and Dublin, Ireland), I transferred to CSU Humboldt State.” 

Arriving at Humboldt, Morris earned his Bachelor’s in Philosophy and English Literature. As he was finishing out his time there, he volunteered to tutor in hopes to find a passion somewhere as a future career. In taking up teaching and working in the writing lab that was on campus, Morris was inspired to enroll in the Master’s of English program with an emphasis in teaching writing. With his luck, his advisor at Humboldt had worked with two professors at Kent State and suggested that he looked into the program there. Once he applied, those two professors became his advisors and became critical in helping with his writing and defending of his dissertation this past year in 2021.

Working closely with students allows for close connections and trust to be built. Having people who care about your education makes a significant difference in a college experience. Morris  explained what impact he hopes to have and what students take away from the courses he taught. “Regardless of the content, it is my deep desire that my students learn that education is best when it is transformational and not transactional. Certainly, this is a bit of projection on my part because of my background as a first-generation college graduate. Still, I know it’s not the most pragmatic frame of mind given the financial and social risks seeking a college education, yet my wish is that college becomes an end-in-itself for every student I teach and not merely a means to an end,” Morris said. “I want them to carry with them the idea that studying the humanities entails holding our values up to critical inspection to best determine that which makes a life worth living so that we all may lead dignified lives and flourish while doing the same for others.”

Teaching a unique and special group of students like honors students has many perks. In reflecting on his experience with students, Morris tells about his favorite part about working with the group in Freshman Honors Colloquium, saying, “I particularly like the structure of the Honor’s Colloquium for two reasons: one is the open discussion driven nature of the course; and two, I enjoy having a cohort of the same students over an academic year. I believe this structure helps develop the kinds of relationships that make education both productive and meaningful for both me and the students. When it comes to the students, I delight in the kinds of discussions we can have in class meetings that feel more like Socratic dialogues scattered with some silliness about serious social and cultural issues that emerge from the course materials. And though it doesn’t happen often on such a large campus, when I bump into a former colloquium member later in their education, I love to hear about their successes and development towards graduation. Learning from them that I’ve played even some ancillary role in their educational path and that they are moving towards their educational goals with success and confidence is part of the joy of teaching.”

Being awarded as a Distinguished Honors Faculty Member, Morris had many thanks he wanted to give, sharing, “There are many who I’d love to thank, and much I’d love to say. I want to thank all members of the Honors College, students, faculty, staff and administration for all their support and faith in my abilities to be a part of the program. I owe my family thanks for allowing me to give my time to teach about things and ideas I love. I want to especially thank my younger brother, Jack, with whom I’ve had many pointed and winding conversations about comedy over the years that led to the creation of my Honors Colloquium. While I have had other awards in my academic career, this is my first teaching award, so it will always occupy a special place for me in my academic career.”

The Honors College honored Morris during the 36th Annual Senior Honors Luncheon, held on April 23, and officially recognized him as the recipient of the 2022 Distinguished Honors Faculty Award. The Honors College congratulated Morris on all of his hard work and achievements that have earned him this award. Passion for education and students can be challenging, but to have faculty like Morris allows a sense of pride in the passion and all that will be achieved going forward.

The Distinguished Honors Faculty Award began in 1992 and recognizes excellence in Honors teaching based on advising of independent work, years of service and a record of strong teaching performance. View the complete list of previous recipients on the Honors College website.

 

                                                                                                                                     ###

 

PHOTO CAPTION 1: Back Campus, Library in the Background

PHOTO CAPTION 2: Bill Morris Headshot

 

Media Contact: Stephanie Moskal, smoskal@kent.edu, 330-672-2312

POSTED: Wednesday, April 27, 2022 12:42 PM
UPDATED: Friday, June 21, 2024 01:57 PM
WRITTEN BY:
Honors College Writing Intern: Mai-Ling Francis