Ohio Wesleyan University has received a gift of more than $4.5 million from the estate of 1944 OWU graduate James F. Morris, M.D., of Portland, Oregon. The bequest will be used to create one of the university’s largest endowed student scholarships.
Morris died Sept. 30, 2017, at age 95. He was a former member of the U.S. Army Medical Corps, a professor emeritus for the Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine, and a retired staff physician, pulmonologist, educator, and medical director for the Portland Veterans Administration Medical Center.
His bequest will create the Dr. James F. Morris ’44 Endowed Scholarship to support Ohio Wesleyan students with demonstrable financial need. The first Morris Scholarship will be awarded for fall 2018. Morris himself received a full scholarship to attend Ohio Wesleyan, enabling him to major in zoology and graduate summa cum laude after only three years of study.
“Those who knew Jim Morris are quick to point out that he believed strongly in the value of higher education and worked throughout his life to ‘pass education forward,’ financially supporting the college careers of many friends, children of friends, and family members,” said Ohio Wesleyan President Rock Jones, Ph.D. “In gratitude for the assistance he received to attend Ohio Wesleyan, Jim also had been actively contributing to the university for decades. He was truly an inspiration.”
After earning his Ohio Wesleyan undergraduate degree, Morris went on to earn his medical degree from the University of Rochester (New York) School of Medicine and Dentistry. He worked as a resident in internal medicine at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester for three years and completed his training at the University of Utah School of Medicine. Morris then joined the Portland Veterans Administration Medical Center, leaving for a short time to serve in the U.S. Army Chemical Corps as chief of the Medical Investigation Branch.
He returned to the Portland Veterans Administration Medical Center in 1957, where he worked for nearly 40 years. During his medical career, Morris achieved certification to practice in three areas: pulmonary, ethics, and infectious disease.
Morris also published a plethora of articles in peer-reviewed journals and made significant scientific contributions, including landmark work in the advancement of spirometry (testing to measure lung function). The area held special interest for Morris because he had contracted tuberculosis early in his medical training. The illness required him to spend a year in a sanitarium, where he read a book a day during his recovery.
He was a member of several professional organizations, including the Society of American Bacteriology, the American Thoracic Society, the Northwest Society for Clinical Research, and the Western Tuberculosis Conference, for which he served as president from 1972 to 1976.
In addition to medicine, Morris lived frugally and was a savvy stock-market investor, which he credited with enabling him to support several philanthropic interests, including Ohio Wesleyan and the university’s Connect Today, Create Tomorrow comprehensive campaign.
Campaign co-chairs Kathryn Bradford Milligan and John Milligan, both members of Ohio Wesleyan’s Class of 1983, said Morris’ bequest has created an enduring legacy that will improve countless lives.
“Supporting students is the primary goal of the Connect Today, Create Tomorrow campaign,” said the Hillsborough, California, couple. “We are grateful for donors like Jim Morris, who understand the importance of a liberal arts education and want to ensure that future generations have the same opportunities for success that they enjoyed.”
The Connect Today, Create Tomorrow campaign was launched in July 2014 with the key objectives of enhancing access and affordability for students through scholarship endowment; recognizing and rewarding faculty excellence and innovation; and improving the physical campus. To date, the campaign has generated more than $150 million in contributions from more than 36,000 individual gifts. Learn more about giving to Ohio Wesleyan at www.owu.edu/campaign.
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