Morris H. Morgan, III, Ph.D., BE'69
Morris H. Morgan, III, a native of Cedartown,Georgia, graduated from Vanderbilt at age 19. In 1978 he was the second African American to receive his Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. After a successful research stint at General Electric, he returned to RPI and became the engineering school’s first tenured African American professor. In 2003 he delivered RPI’s Garnet D. Baltimore Lecture in recognition of his impact on engineering education.
Morris began his tenure at Hampton University in 1996 as a professor and Massey Chair of Environmental Engineering. He served for six years as the second dean of the HU School of Engineering and Technology. He secured funding for a NASA-funded Aero-Propulsion Center and a Virtual Parts Manufacturing Center and initiated the computer engineering degree program. Upon returning to the faculty in 2004, he continued his research in designing hypersonic vehicle body structures, modeling boron nitride nanomaterial reactors and designing industrial spouted bed systems, a field in which he and the late Howard Littman garnered world-class prominence. In 2008 he was a Virginia Outstanding Scientist Award Candidate for his research contributions to fluid-particle systems.
Morris received Vanderbilt’s Legacy Award in 2015 as a pioneering African American degree recipient. He published 96 research papers and six book chapters, held four patents, and produced 12 STEM master’s and Ph.D. students.
In reverence to his parents, Morris always championed efforts at HU, RPI, Vanderbilt and beyond to encourage students to pursue advanced degrees. Two of his many success stories are his daughter, Kristin, who earned a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering, and his son, Eric, who earned his MBA.