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Longtime ACU supporters receive honorary doctorates


Tommy and Martha Morris

Members of one of ACU’s most beloved and deep-rooted families, Tommy (’55) and Martha (Smith ’58) Morris, received honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees for their contributions to the university and society. 

The presentation took place at a private ceremony on campus in May. Tommy’s honorary degree follows in the footsteps of his mother, Alberta (Allen ’26) Morris, who received an honorary doctorate from Abilene Christian in 1982.

Tommy’s father – Dr. Don H. Morris (’24) – served ACU for more than 40 years, including 29 years as president. Don’s cousin, A.B. Morris, served as director of athletics for 58 years and coached multiple Wildcat teams. Following in his family’s tradition, Tommy was a standout athlete, lettering for the Wildcats in football, basketball, and track and field. He and Martha met at Abilene Christian, and after marrying in 1955, remained in Abilene and continued to build the Morris family and Wildcat legacies.

Tommy and Martha’s generosity to their alma mater began soon after their graduation from ACC. They were early donors to the Design for Development campaign in the 1960s – an impactful time that changed the face of the university, producing 15 new buildings, 10 building renovations and substantial endowment growth. Since then, the Morrises have continued to be significant contributors during periods of growth for the university, such as their gift toward Wildcat Stadium during the Vision in Action initiative. Their support for the Moody Coliseum renovation as part of the current Higher Ground campaign made possible the Morris Family Men’s Basketball Team Suite, a space for student-athletes and coaching staff. They also have consistently poured funding into annual operations for men’s basketball, seeing this as a strategic priority that will boost ACU’s national visibility and reputation. 

“Whenever ACU has had a need, the Morrises have consistently stepped up as dedicated partners,” said Zack Lassiter, vice president for athletics. “Few families have such an intrinsic connection to the university as the Morrises, and they have done more than sustain that legacy – they have deepened it.”

The Morrises have also given generously of their time to the Abilene and ACU communities for many decades. Tommy was elected to the Abilene City Council from 1971-74 and has served on numerous local boards. At ACU, Tommy served as a trustee (1974-2005), president of the Alumni Association and the Wildcat Club, and a member of the National Development Council. Athletics continues to be a passion for the pair: the Wildcats inducted Tommy into the ACU Sports Hall of Fame in 1998, and he and Martha are part of the Athletic Director’s Champions Circle. All four of their children and a number of grandchildren attended ACU.

“Their sustained commitment is a blessing to our community, ensuring ACU can educate students for Christian service and leadership for generations to come,” said Dr. Phil Schubert (’91), ACU president. “In Tommy’s and Martha’s lives and work, they live out the mission and vision of ACU.”

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