“In order to make a change, we have to be apart of the changes.” In his more than 20 years involved with Virginia Tech, former Pamplin Advisory Council member Morris L. Smith has seen changes within the university. Morris began his connection to the university in 1990, when he became involved with a project known as the “Idea Machine.” It was a research partnership with his place of employment, the Scott Paper Company. His relationship with the project spawned relationships with the university, and Morris joined the advisory council in 1992. That year he experienced his first Virginia Tech football game, with Michael Vick still at the head, and began visiting the school frequently for advisory meetings. “I enjoyed the relationship with those I met and associated with over the years – and the atmosphere. I recommend students for Virginia Tech as I see them. It’s a beautiful relationship in terms of receptivity of people” said Morris, reflecting on his first two decades.

As Morris moved on from the Advisory Council, he continued his deep connection with another side of his life–his church. Starting in his youth, Morris became a dedicated member of the Methodist Church of New Jersey, the oldest in the Northeast and one of only four incorporated. Morris worked the church into every angle of his life, helping as historian, financial officer and superintendent of the church school over the years.

Six years ago, as historian, Morris worked vigorously for an award that was just out of grasp. However, Morris has now been honored with his own award for his work on that project. Titled the “Morris L. Smith Ethnic Church History Award,” this award conveys and carries on the “personal legacy of promoting African American history as a tool for transforming our Church into a more inclusive, just, and thereby faithful body” which Morris continuously strives for in his spiritual community. “I wasn’t expecting it,” said Morris. He humbly accepted the honor, and still pushes for a healthier church community, targeting discrimination and segregation.

“In order to make a change,” said Morris, “We have to share information that helps people have a different thought process. A problem today, is that a lot of that is recurring.”

Morris has witnessed change within Pamplin and outside with the Methodist church, but calls both a “lifetime experience.” Pamplin is honored to have him tied to the school, and congratulates him on his achievement.