UCLA Medal Presentation to Sherie & Don MorrisonSpeech
Good evening, again! I am so pleased to award the UCLA Medal, our university’s highest honor, to two outstanding and energetic members of our UCLA community: Sherie and Don Morrison.
Many of you here know about their accomplishments and contributions, but I want to highlight a few points.
Sherie and Don have both dedicated their careers to grappling with complex issues —and finding solutions. Their achievements — as individuals and as partners — have been characterized by a boundless energy and passion to serve.
They met while both were in graduate school at Stanford. Their lives, studies and academic careers took them back to the east coast for a couple decades — to Columbia University — before joining the UCLA faculty in 1988.
A world-renowned immunologist, Sherie’s career has been nothing short of extraordinary.
In fact, she has significantly advanced our understanding of how antibodies function and how we can use them to treat diseases… and she holds more than 29 patents — a stunning number.
Sherie’s patented antibody technology is the basis for medicines used to treat a variety of autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease and multiple sclerosis.
Her teaching and leadership at UCLA over the years have been just as stellar as her research.
One of her more challenging administrative tasks was, in 1997, to merge our departments of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics in the College with the Science and Microbiology and Immunology Department in the School of Medicine.
Her efforts resulted in the successful joint Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics, now ranked among the top microbiology departments in the country. Before and after the merger, she served as department chair from 1992 to 2002.
And now, though technically retired, Sherie keeps going! She is continuing her important research on engineering antibodies to target cancer.
Don joined our campus as a professor in management science and marketing after a distinguished 22 years at Columbia.
A trailblazer in the field of marketing science, he has been a prolific researcher, author and editor, and a dedicated teacher and administrator.
His lifelong passion for sports — honed as a Red Wings fan growing up in Detroit — translated into a love for probability and statistics.
That love has led Don to author or co-author more than 90 articles on marketing research and applied statistics. In addition to that impressive feat, he has been an expert witness as a statistician in a number of legal cases, and a consultant to industrial firms and government agencies.
His colleagues certainly noticed his impact. Don was awarded the highest honor of the American Marketing Association in 2002, when he was named the McGraw-Hill/Irwin Distinguished Educator of the Year.
But beyond the accolades he has received for his pioneering research, Don has said seeing his PhD students succeed is among his proudest accomplishments, as many have gone on to do great things in their own right.
He calls this his “academic family tree” — and it is certainly thriving.
Like Sherie, Don took on additional leadership roles on this campus.
He was our Faculty Athletic Representative from 1994 to 2014 — a record-long tenure that still stands.
Don’s experience as track team captain during his time as an undergraduate at MIT prepared him well to serve our Athletics Department and our student-athletes through mentorship. He even helped one of our football team members apply for and receive a Rhodes Scholarship!
And now, as Professor Emeritus of Marketing, like he did as an athlete, Don is still running fast and jumping high: He is a member of the UCLA Anderson Board of Advisors, the FEMBA and EMBA admission committees, and the school’s Centennial Campaign committee… And he serves as the unofficial curator of UCLA Anderson’s amazing art collection.
If Sherie and Don chose to rest on their many professional accomplishments, the Morrisons would be an incredibly impressive couple.
Yet, they’ve built upon their achievements and volunteer roles by stepping into the world of philanthropy together.
Sherie and Don have given so many others the opportunity to learn and grow through the arts, athletics, life sciences, medicine, business and more, all with a view toward the future.
They have generously supported two endowed chairs — one in molecular immunology and another in microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics — that are enhancing our ability to attract top faculty to UCLA and facilitating scientific breakthroughs.
Another example of their bold and visionary commitment to providing opportunity is the Morrison Family Center for Marketing Studies and Data Analytics at UCLA Anderson.
Through Don’s career at Anderson, and with two daughters Heather and Michelle who have Anderson MBAs, the Morrisons are very familiar with all that the school does to prepare the next generation of entrepreneurs and leaders.
Established in 2015, the Morrison Family Center is a global resource that bridges academics and practitioners.
It provides data and tools to advance our understanding of consumer markets and behaviors.
Their admiration and love for Marion Anderson also inspired them to give a generous gift for construction of the state-of-the-art building that will bear her name.
Outside this campus, the Morrisons have supported their alma maters MIT and Stanford, in addition to organizations like the Exceptional Children’s Foundation and the Fulfillment Fund, which helps make a college a reality for students from under-resourced communities.
Sherie and Don’s boundless energy is helping propel us into UCLA’s second century, stronger than ever, and we are all very grateful.
Before I present their medals, I’d like everyone to hear this citation, which says:
SHERIE & DON MORRISON
As dedicated scholars and devoted supporters, you have illustrated UCLA’s highest ideals through your innovative efforts to improve our society and make lasting impacts on so many lives. As admired members of the UCLA faculty for more than three decades, you have both used innovative approaches to take on complicated challenges and achieved meaningful results. Sherie, your incredible career and groundbreaking research in antibodies has translated into patents and therapies that are treating diseases and significantly improving quality of life for patients and their families. Don, not only did your expertise in applied statistics help originate and inform the field of marketing science, but your years of teaching and mentoring graduate students, student-athletes and faculty has also had an exponential impact reaching far beyond this campus. Together, you have devoted yourselves to making a difference as engaged citizens and philanthropic trailblazers. As champions of science, medicine, business, education, music, libraries, arts and athletics, your support has touched nearly all corners of our university. Beyond UCLA, you have advanced causes that serve children and adults with special needs, and ensure college access for all. For your incredible scholarship and for your dedication to leaving an indelible mark on our world, we proudly bestow upon you the UCLA Medal. Given at UCLA this eleventh day of June, two thousand and nineteen.