Houston Baptist University is thankful to announce the receipt of a $10 million gift from Dr. Stewart Morris, Sr. through the Joella and Stewart Morris Foundation. The gift establishes The Morris Family Center for Law & Liberty and will fund the construction of a classroom building modeled after Independence Hall. A Signing Celebration was held on Thursday, Sept. 6, in McNair Hall of the Morris Cultural Arts Center on HBU’s campus. Morris is a fixture in the Houston business community and is a founding father of the University.
Dr. Robert B. Sloan, HBU president, emphasized the magnitude of the philanthropy. “We are so thankful for Dr. Stewart Morris, Sr. and the Morris Foundation. With this generous gift, they are recognized as the largest lifetime donor to the University,” Sloan said. “Once again, Dr. Morris, a main founder of HBU, has stepped forward to make a transforming gift to the University. The Morris Family Center for Law and Liberty will teach American founding principles, constitutional government, free enterprise, and all of the related political, social and economic implications of a nation truly committed to liberty and justice for all. The impact of this gift will be seen for generations to come in the lives of our students, and therefore in the cultural fabric of Houston, the State of Texas, America, and even in nations around the world. All of us join together in thanking God for the life of this generous man and his family as he continues to make a significant difference for multiplied thousands, even as he approaches his 99th birthday!”
Dr. Morris said, “I have believed in HBU throughout my life as being a Christian university where students get a great education, and are encouraged to love the Lord and their country – in that order. Values like patriotism, duty and honor may seem old-fashioned, but they are important to the future of our nation. University students should be taught about our nation’s Founding Fathers, and why the principles of liberty, limited government, the rule of law and free enterprise are important to their future.”
The mission of the Morris Family Center for Law & Liberty at Houston Baptist University is to 1) educate all people about the principles that make America an exceptional nation; 2) train and equip teachers, lawyers and the business community to articulate and defend our nation’s founding principles; and 3) facilitate civil discourse among diverse groups about politics, public policy and the future of the United States of America.
“We are so grateful to the Morris family,” said Dr. Chris Hammons, director of The Morris Family Center for Law & Liberty. “Independence Hall at HBU will not only be an iconic addition to our campus, but it will become an educational destination for school children, teachers and business leaders to learn more about American history, our constitutional system of government and free enterprise.”
The project is close to the heart of Dr. Morris. As a Navy veteran of World War II, a lifelong patriot, and an exceptional entrepreneur, Morris is eager for younger generations to know and embrace the tenets that have served America well. Morris began working at Stewart Title at 10 years old, where he served as an “office boy.” After earning a bachelor’s degree from The University of Texas, a doctor of jurisprudence from Southern Methodist University and a midshipman’s degree from Columbia University, he served in the South Pacific beginning in 1943 before returning to his native Houston at the conclusion of the war in 1945.
He helped grow Stewart Title into a national and international powerhouse as the president and co-chief executive officer. In spite of his busy career, Morris took it upon himself to contribute and to personally raise funds for the creation of a uniquely Christian university in Houston. He is recognized as a founding father of the University, helping establish what was Houston Baptist College in 1960. Dr. Morris and his late wife, Joella, have been named recipients of the HBU Spirit of Excellence Award, the Founders Medal and The President’s Award. The Morris family has endowed a number of scholarships for worthy HBU students. The Morris Cultural Arts Center, an integral facility on the campus of the University, was established through the generosity of Dr. Stewart and Joella Morris. Dr. Morris currently serves as a member of the HBU Board of Trustees as well as the President’s Leadership Council.