With a new academic year comes newly elected employee association presidents at Austin Community College District (ACC). We talk to the incoming 2020-21 presidents to learn more about them professionally and personally.
2020-21 Adjunct Faculty Association President Don Morris started working at ACC in fall 1997. He has been very involved in his 23 years at the college, previously serving as the AFA president twice and on many councils and committees.
When did you start working at ACC and in what role?
I started working at ACC in the fall of 1997. I was hired as an adjunct professor teaching travel and tourism courses. In those days it was under the marketing department at ACC. I taught 6-10 p.m. Monday to Thursday at Robbins High School just off of 39th and Guadalupe Streets.
What additional role(s) at the college have you held (if any)?
My primary role is and always has been as a teacher. My main focus has always been on teaching and learning. When I was in college in the 1970s, the professors' main objective was to transmit knowledge. That was before the information age. Today we have entire libraries of information in our pockets. My focus is in teaching students how to learn with a business studies perspective.
I also work as an instructional associate in General Studies. My primary duties include advising students on the General Studies degree plans in the Liberal Arts and in Science.
I served as President of the AFA in 2002-2003 and again 2005-2006. I have worked on nearly every shared governance council and committee throughout the years. ACC offers adjunct faculty a place at the table, and I have always believed that it is important for the adjunct faculty voice to be heard.
What inspired you to run for president and do you have any goals for this year in your role as president?
I had several faculty ask me to run. I have served as president twice in the past and knew the challenges ahead, but not the current processes involved. I have wanted to accomplish several primary goals that have needed attention but have never been resolved. These issues are primarily adjunct faculty administrative work rules, e-staffing, and revising the AFA bylaws. All these are long-term goals that won't get changed overnight but we have to start somewhere.
Where did you grow up? What was it like?
I grew up in the west Texas town of Odessa. I played football from 7th to 12th grade. For most of my football years, I played running back or defensive back. In my senior year, the coach moved me to nose guard. At 5'9" and 155 pounds, I wasn't built for the defensive line. I never faced a center from the opposing team under 200 pounds but held my own. At the end of the year, I received the coveted Fighting Heart Award. I still love the game and root for the Longhorns every week but one — the week they play Texas Tech, my alma mater.
What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?
I taught travel and tourism at the college for 15 years and before that worked in the industry for over 20 years. There is nothing that can replace the experience of traveling and visiting new cultures, food, music, art, and scenery. I have always loved this Mark Twain quote: "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime."
What do you "geek out" about?
I love to play disc golf. Every Saturday morning, I get out with guys from my church and we play a round of disc golf. It is a very fun sport that, unlike regular golf, is easy on the pocketbook.