Morley’s devotion to RIT spans four decades

Trustee chairman emeritus known for leadership and work ethic

Follow Bob Finnerty on Twitter
Follow RITNEWS on Twitter

A. Sue Weisler

Mike Morley ’69 (business administration) has been an adviser to RIT President Bill Destler, as well as to former RIT President Albert Simone. Morley leaves his post as RIT trustee chairman this fall.

E-mails sent by Mike Morley at 6 a.m. always gave former RIT President Albert Simone an indication of how loyal Morley ’69 (business administration) was to his alma mater.

“I had a habit of sending a lot of correspondence to the board of trustees, and Mike would always respond first and the most often,” says the retired Simone. “He’d read everything that would come through and you would see his e-mails coming back early in the morning from his Kodak office. RIT is always uppermost in Mike’s heart and mind.”

Morley, who has led the RIT Board of Trustees as chair since 2005, is handing over the gavel to Donald Boyce ’67 (business administration). Morley’s relationship with RIT began when he earned his business degree while working full time at Eastman Kodak Co. and raising a family.

“Many of his accomplishments were done the hard way—going to night school, working his way up at Kodak,” says Simone.

Under Morley’s tenure as board chair, RIT accomplished the following:

  • The successful conclusion of a $309 million fund-raising campaign for RIT in 2006

  • The development and implementation of a strategic plan, a roadmap for RIT through the year 2015

  • A trustees meeting in California with visits to corporate leaders at 22 companies

  • The establishment of Imagine RIT: Innovation and Creativity Festival

  • The addition of several new doctoral programs: sustainablity, astrophysical sciences and technology, color 
science and computing and information sciences

  • The opening of RIT Dubai in 2008

  • The dedication of several new buildings: Center for Student Innovation, College of Applied Science and Technology, Center for Bioscience Education and Technology, and the IT Collaboratory research facility

But perhaps Morley’s biggest accomplishment was finding a new president—Bill Destler —to replace Simone, who served RIT for 15 years.

“Mike was full of great ideas on how to proceed, and he had a special understanding of the importance of involving the entire RIT community in the process, thus assuring that the process was open and transparent,” says Boyce, who led the presidential search committee. “He was an exceptionally strong ally as we worked together with others on the committee to find, recruit, interview and select the best possible candidates for the job of RIT president. When Mike speaks, people listen, and with good reason.”

Since his arrival in 2007, Destler has relied on Morley as a mentor and strong supporter in his first two years as president.

“Mike is a natural leader because he listens so well and because he makes decisions based on what is best for the organization he is leading, whether the decision is in his own personal interests or not,” says Destler. “He is also a very hard worker who leads by example and who can be very tenacious when pursuing a worthy goal. Under his leadership, RIT has expanded its national and global reach and has moved toward greater emphasis on benchmarking and metric-driven goals in its operations.”

Mike and his wife, Jean, have been married more than 45 years and have three grown children and three grandchildren. He credits RIT with providing him “the skills and confidence that have been so important to my success.” Morley adds: “My time with RIT has been an exciting adventure. RIT continues to grow in size and scope. It is amazing to see how far the university has come in such a short period.”

The new board chair knows he has a tough act to follow. 

“RIT has built a strong foundation and has experienced an impressive upward trajectory,” says Boyce. “But if it follows the strategic plan that was developed under Mike’s leadership, RIT will not only continue to provide an excellent education for students, but it will also rise even further in stature. We need to recognize the great strides that have been made while Mike was board chair, but he would be disappointed if we rested on our laurels.”