Sep 102003
Authors: Jesse McLain

“What’s in a name? Well I can tell you there’s an awful lot in a name,” said CSU’s President Emeritus William E. Morgan.

The history behind the name of CSU’s Morgan Library and the university itself can be attributed to one man. In 1957, William E. Morgan initiated the controversial change in name from Colorado Agricultural and Mechanical College to Colorado State University.

“It happened because somebody thought it was needed and set out to do it. And I’m guilty,” Morgan said.

Morgan was president of CSU from 1949 to1969, during which time the student body grew from 1,800 to 18,000.

“We had faculty staff loads that would cause an outright rebellion now,” Morgan said.

Morgan has witnessed changes in Fort Collins for over five decades, and he has made some friends along the way.

“This place really should have been called William E. Morgan University instead of Colorado State University,” said Frank Vattano, a psychology professor and a University Distinguished Teaching Scholar. “He really built this place.”

Vattano first came to CSU as a student while Morgan was president and then returned as part of the staff. “I was a student here from 1954 to 58 and then came back to the faculty in ’64,” Vattano said. “(Morgan) remembered me from when I was a student. That is just the kind of man he is.”

One of Vattano’s reasons for coming back as part of CSU faculty was remembering Morgan.

“He was the best academic I ever worked for,” Vattano said. “I don’t think he ever had an enemy.”

Morgan was educated at Harvard, among other places, at a time in history that most students only read about now.

“The week I left in that second-hand car to be a graduate student at Harvard was the week that Hitler moved into Poland and World War II started,” Morgan said.

As World War II began, Morgan attempted to stay focused on his academic career.

“I was going to become a hotshot economist,” Morgan said. “I took finals at Harvard the week that France fell. Believe me it was a real distraction.”

Morgan served on active duty from 1942 to 1946 and was promoted to Colonel while serving as Executive Officer to Chief of Operations, Allied Air Staff, China-Burma-India Theatre.

After the war, Morgan became president of Arkansas A & M College. Someone then recommended him for the presidential position at CSU.

“And I would have to admit, I was intrigued with the title of president. Somebody recommended me for the vacant job at Colorado A & M College,” Morgan said. “Here was the opportunity to be president of a state-wide college and I was 39 years old and I thought, ‘I know I can do it.'”

Gladys Eddy, wife of Willard Eddy, whom Eddy Hall is named for, has known Morgan since he came to CSU.

“He made CSU a fine institution. Everybody loved him, he was very much a people person,” Eddy said. “We had only one dormitory when Morgan came. He made that one of his top priorities- along with the library.”

During Morgan’s time at CSU, the administration was in exceptionally close contact with all facets of the university.

“Higher education has changed in drastic ways. Life was a lot simpler,” Vattano said. “When he talked to legislators they listened and trusted him because they knew he knew what was going on. Now there’s so much suspicion between the legislation and the faculty.”

Morgan was not only involved directly with the government and his staff, but he also put students first. Student government was an organization with which Morgan was frequently involved.

“He used to have the student government meet for dinner at his house once a month. He loved that. He would just sit and have an informal discussion with all the kids. They could tell them anything on their minds,” Eddy said.

His personal hopes for today’s students are similar to those for students 50 years ago.

“At the age of 94, as I look at the present scene and I realize what’s happened to this crop of students, I see that their present circumstances are similar to my own. I hope that they realize their lives can be changed completely by circumstances beyond their control,” he said. “As long as goals are fundamentally sound, I emphasis that again, fundamentally sound or right, they have a chance to rise above and endure it.”

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