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Honoring an Educator and a Father

Morgan FamilyEver wonder what to get for that special person who seems to have everything? Children ponder this question each time a holiday, birthday or milestone arises in the life of a loved one.

Recently, Southeast alum Dr. Craig Morgan found the perfect gift to honor his father, retired Southeast professor Dr. Willard Morgan. He established an endowed scholarship for graduate students at Southeast Missouri State.

As a result of this gift, father and son can share in the joy of making a difference in the lives of others, something they have both done for many years.

A Little History

Dr. Willard Morgan joined the faculty of Southeast Missouri State University in 1963. After relocating several times to complete his education and his military service, Dr. Morgan and his wife, Diane, arrived in Southeast Missouri with their three children, including 8-year-old Craig, and quickly made Cape Girardeau their home.

During his 28-year tenure at Southeast, Dr. Morgan served in many roles, including coordinator of student teaching, professor of educational administration, director of school services, dean of Continuing Education, director of summer sessions, and coordinator of the specialist program. Under his leadership, more than $2 million in funding for the University and area public schools was garnered for various programs unique to the region, state or nation. Dr. Morgan retired in 1991 and holds the designation of Professor Emeritus of Education Administration and Counseling.

While his father was impacting higher education in Missouri, Craig focused on his own education. After graduating from Cape Central High School in 1973, Craig enrolled at Southeast Missouri State University, graduating valedictorian in 1977. His bachelor's in pre-medical education prepared him well to pursue a medical degree from Vanderbilt, where he graduated second in his class in 1981, followed by further education in his specialty at UC San Francisco and Harvard. Craig is now an ophthalmologist in Huntington, West Virginia, specializing in the treatment of retinal disorders.

Not only do father and son share a dedication to higher education, they also share a love of sports. Willard Morgan was the first four-sport athlete and captain of the first football team at Crete Community High School in Illinois, and he lettered in football and baseball at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. Craig Morgan followed in his father's footsteps by excelling on the varsity football teams at both Cape Central High School and Southeast Missouri State.

A Memorable Gift

Combining their shared passions, Craig has established the Dr. Willard J. Morgan and Dr. Craig M. Morgan Graduate Studies Endowed Scholarship through the Southeast Missouri University Foundation. Not only has he made an initial generous gift to begin the scholarship, but Craig has also included a generous gift in his estate plan to add to the scholarship in the future.
With the joint input of father and son, the scholarship criteria requires that the recipient be accepted into the graduate assistant program to work in either the athletics department, the College of Education, or the College of Science, Technology and Agriculture. Preference in the selection process will also be given to a student with a Christian affiliation and/or one who has served or is serving in the military.

Graduate assistantships play an important role at Southeast. Designed to provide support for a student during full-time graduate study, the assistantship offers an opportunity for a graduate student to serve in a professional role and to establish a professional relationship with faculty, professional staff and administrators. By accepting an assistantship, a graduate student makes a significant commitment to serve the University by carrying substantial professional responsibilities while achieving excellent academic performance in his/her degree program.

Craig Morgan says he is pleased to be able to honor his father and acknowledge his service to the University through this scholarship to support graduate assistants.

"I hope this scholarship will encourage graduate students at Southeast Missouri State who share the passions and interests that my father and I have pursued throughout our lives," Craig says.

So the next time you are trying to find a truly extraordinary way to say thank you for everything that special person has done in your life, consider making a difference in another's life through the gift of education.

If you would like to make a gift that honors a loved one, like Craig has done, please contact Trudy G. Lee, Ed.D. at 573.651.5935 or 888.812.3769 or

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A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to the Southeast Missouri University Foundation a specific item, an amount of money, a gift contingent upon certain events or a percentage of your estate.

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