March 16, 2015
DALLAS (SMU) – A gift of $2 million from Linda and Ken Morris will support a faculty directorship in SMU’s Cox School of Business, raising the University to 103 endowed faculty positions and closer to the Second Century Campaign goal of 110.
Their gift will endow the Linda A. and Kenneth R. Morris Endowed Director of the Caruth Institute for Entrepreneurship in the Cox School of Business in honor of Jerry F. White, who has served as director since 1988. The endowment provides for the continued professional leadership of the Institute, which promotes the spirit of entrepreneurship through credit and noncredit courses as well as numerous business community outreach programs.
“Endowments such as this are vital because they allow us to retain individuals of great distinction at the University,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “This farsighted gift provides permanent funding for faculty, and we are proud that it comes from an SMU alumni family.”
“It is very important that we meet our ambitious goal for endowed faculty positions by the end of the Second Century Campaign,” said Caren Prothro, campaign co-chair. “Creating new permanent funding sources for faculty positions is vital in driving the University’s exciting rise among the best private universities in the nation.”
The Caruth Institute for Entrepreneurship supports everything from business plan competitions and entrepreneurship clubs to participation in the U.S. State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program.
“Supporting the spirit of entrepreneurship at SMU’s Cox School bolsters the University’s commitment to student learning both inside and outside the classroom,” said Albert W. Neimi, Jr., dean of the Cox School of Business and Tolleson Chair in Business Leadership. “This is at the very heart of what puts Cox graduates head and shoulders above their peers.”
Ken and Linda Morris
Ken Morris is currently vice president, student systems software, at Workday, Inc., where he has served in a variety of technology- and development-related roles since shortly after the company was founded in 2005. He was the co-founder of PeopleSoft Inc., where he served as its chief technology officer and in various other technology-related roles for 11 years until his retirement in 1998.
Ken Morris has longstanding ties to Dallas. He graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School in 1968 and was named to that school’s Hall of Fame in 1999. He earned a B.B.A. degree from SMU in 1972, followed by an M.B.A. at Harvard University in 1977. He firmly believes in the role of entrepreneurship in job creation and economic development and has been very impressed with SMU Cox professor Jerry White. White specializes in entrepreneurial strategy and finance and over the past 25 years has taught more than 10,000 promising or established entrepreneurs, many of whom have gone on to great success. He is co-founder and chair of the Cox School’s annual Dallas 100 Awards, which recognize the area’s 100 fastest-growing private businesses. Ken Morris has served on the Cox School’s Executive Board as well as its Campaign Steering Committee and has been named a Distinguished Alumnus of the Cox School.
Linda Morris spent most of her professional career in recruiting and human resources. She served as a principal at American Management Systems, Inc., heading up a nationwide college recruiting effort, and later was manager of human resources for PeopleSoft Inc. She currently is involved with various philanthropic activities. Together, the couple founded the Morris Foundation, which assists social services organizations, especially those focused on education and animal cruelty prevention and care.
Mr. and Mrs. Morris were among the first of two investors in the SMU Cox MBA Venture Fund, directed by White through the Caruth Institute, which allows MBA students to gain practical knowledge in venture projects. The fund was established with $600,000 in seed capital, made its first investment in 2002, and is now valued at approximately $4 million after 15 student-driven investments. Previous gifts from Mr. and Mrs. Morris to SMU support the Information Technology Center within the Blanton Student Services Building, the Campus Technology Initiative (to fund technology infrastructure improvements), the Kenneth R. and Linda A. Morris BBA Scholars Endowment Fund and MBA Scholarships. The couple, who reside in Arizona, have been honored with SMU’s Mustang Award in recognition of their significant philanthropy to the University.
“Ken and Linda Morris have time and again generously given back to the University, and we are grateful for their support,” said Brad Cheves, SMU Vice President for Development and External Affairs. “Their gift will directly benefit our students by funding a position in an area of growing importance, and is a significant step toward securing the goals of the Second Century Campaign to position the University for future successes.”
The gift to fund the Linda A. and Kenneth R. Morris Endowed Director of the Caruth Institute for Entrepreneurship in the Cox School of Business counts toward the $1 billion goal of SMU Unbridled: The Second Century Campaign, which to date has raised more than $942 million to support student quality, faculty and academic excellence and the campus experience. The campaign coincides with SMU’s celebration of the 100th anniversary of the University’s founding in 1911 and its opening in 1915.
SMU is a nationally ranked private university in Dallas founded 100 years ago. Today, SMU enrolls approximately 11,000 students who benefit from the academic opportunities and international reach of seven degree-granting schools.