SUNY Oneonta welcomed its eighth president, Barbara Jean Morris, on Monday, July 2. In a campus-wide message, President Morris said that it is “a thrill and an honor to inherit a strong and vibrant college,” adding that she looks forward to the challenge of leading SUNY Oneonta.
“I will work tirelessly to ensure that SUNY Oneonta is recognized as a model of an engaged university—engaged with our students, one another, our community, region, and the world,” she said. “I believe it is essential that we not only create critical thinkers but also prepare our students to be responsible doers that will create a pathway for a more just, humane, and sustainable world.”
President Morris comes to SUNY Oneonta from her position as provost and vice president for academic affairs at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado. In her seven-year tenure there, she reported to the president and served as chief academic officer overseeing educational policy and programs of instruction; the development and assessment of academic programs; and faculty recruitment and development. She also had broad oversight of strategic planning, data-driven modeling, budgeting, fundraising, and state and legislative policy. Prior to her position at Fort Lewis, President Morris served 16 years at University of Redlands in southern California, where she rose to the position of dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
President Morris is proud to be SUNY Oneonta’s second female president, and proud of her Native American ties. Coming from Fort Lewis College, where nearly half of the student population identified as minority, President Morris believes that colleges and universities should be learning communities based on respect, and from this, shared governance, including participation by students.
Later this summer, President Morris will greet first-year and new transfer students during the college’s orientation activities and join them in Pass Through the Pillars, SUNY Oneonta’s ceremonial welcome to new campus community members. She will meet students, faculty and staff at the college’s opening breakfast on Aug. 31.
As a political scientist, President Morris has focused on organizational theory, leadership practice, and strategies for cooperation. Her most recent research focuses on women and politics, tribal governments and the presidency. Her co-authored manuscript, “Recreating the Circle,” is a “collective undertaking by Indian people and their allies that focuses on American Indian and Alaska native self-determination.” Her co-authored article “Faith and Sex: Presidents under Pressure: Electoral Coalitions and Strategic Presidents” looks at the Executive Office of the President and women’s and religious interest groups.
President Morris received her Bachelor of Arts in political science from San Diego State University, and a master’s and a doctorate in political science from the University of California, Santa Barbara.