Acting provost Robert Morris died early Monday morning after being hospitalized for an infection a month ago. Marilyn Buck, senior associate provost and dean of the University College, will continue her role as to act as acting provost. Samantha Blankenship of Ball State Photo Services // Photo Provided
Services announced for late acting provost Robert Morris
Services and calling hours for acting provost Robert Morris have been set.
Calling is at First Presbyterian Church on Dec. 4 from 3 to 7 p.m. and Dec. 5 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The funeral is at the same church at 1 p.m. Dec. 5.
Instead of flowers, send memorial donations to the Sandra K. and Robert J. Morris Fund #30241 through the Ball State University Foundation. The fund financially assists incoming students majoring in chemistry and nursing. Contact Louise Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org to donate. Donations can also be made to Robert J. Morris Graduate Students in Inorganic Chemistry Award through the University of Illinois Foundation.
Send condolences to the family at meeksmortuary.com.
The news of acting provost Robert Morris' death came as a shock to those close to him.
Morris died early Nov. 28 after being hospitalized for septicemia, or blood poisoning, more than a month ago, said his brother, Richard Morris II.
They don't know where or how Morris got the infection, Richard Morris said. It settled on his heart and then started to shut down his kidneys.
Richard Morris said they did not expect Morris to die — he was scheduled for more tests and a heart surgery later this week.
Terry King, interim president, sent an email to the university Monday to inform students and faculty of the news. He said they would share information on any services as soon as arrangements are made.
"We extend our heartfelt sympathy to his family and close friends," King said in the email.
Greg Pyle, a local dentist, was best friends with Morris for nearly 40 years, and considered him family. He spent Saturday with Morris, watching the University of Michigan and Ohio State football game.
"I thought he was turning the corner and getting better," Pyle said. "I can't believe it. It seemed like he felt better, like it was normal times."
Morris' family is having a tough time with their loss, and Pyle urged people to keep them in their thoughts and prayers.
Although the two drifted apart after studying at Ball State together, Pyle said their friendship rekindled and became a major part of his life.
“He's down to earth, very loyal and very trustworthy. Everything you would want in a friend. Always has been,” Pyle said. “When I have issues, I call him, and when he has issues, he calls me."
But above all else, Pyle said Morris has always been committed to his work, and his dedication to Ball State was the most significant.
The university was near and dear to Morris' heart, Pyle said, and he'd always do whatever he could for it. He constantly heard from other people about what a great job Morris was doing at the university.
“I know from his first position as a chemistry professor, all the way up the ranks, people have told me how much they admired the job he's doing," Pyle said. "Students come first for him. And faculty and staff are very important to him."
Jason Ribblett, a professor of chemistry, said Morris — who was previously a professor and chair of the department — stayed close with chemistry faculty even as he moved up the rank.
Ribblett first came to Ball State in 1999 as a contract faculty member, where Morris acted as his faculty mentor. Years later, Morris became the department chair and caused a significant shift in the department’s attitude, Ribblett said, making it more student-focused and student-centered.
Morris had a keen focus for making the chemistry department more concentrated on undergraduates, Ribblett said, and his student-centered approach increased the number of chemistry majors.
“He went to faculty personally and asked them if they could take on students in the summer for programs, and that’s really what changed things,” he said. “It’s things like that, really, that was student focused or student-centered outcomes by giving them career experience and research opportunities to prepare for their future.”
As the acting provost, Morris was the chief academic officer. He also had the title of vice president for academic affairs and was responsible for overseeing all of the university’s academic colleges, plus the graduate school, University College and the Honors College.
The provost's office will continue to operate as it has since Morris was hospitalized, with Marilyn Buck, senior associate provost and dean of University College, filling in for Morris.
My heart breaks for the loss of Bob. https://t.co/8JKU5u9uLB— Lori Siefker (@lls12) November 28, 2016
Incredibly sad news. Man loved Ball State. Thoughts with family today. https://t.co/EDTc2JeNkF— Brandon Kistler (@DrBMK_RD) November 28, 2016