By Isabel Weinger Nielsen, editor
William “Travis” Morris, Associate Professor of Criminal Justice and Director of the Norwich University Peace and War Center, was named the winner of the 2017 Homer L. Dodge Award for Teaching Excellence. The biennial award is given to a member of the teaching faculty for “noteworthy evidence of distinguished contributions to the life of Norwich University through outstanding teaching.” Recipients of the award are in their first 10 years of their teaching career. Nominations are made by students, faculty, and/or staff, and the winner is decided by a committee which includes previous Dodge winners. Dr. Morris said, “I’m honored and humbled by the award. I’m also very proud to be considered a Dodge recipient.”
Dr. Morris addressed the Norwich Community at the 2017 Convocation ceremony on August 29 and spoke about the importance of taking risks. He said “For almost 200 years, Norwich University faculty and staff have helped students like you give the world hope and set an example of what it means to be a leader, work hard, make the right choice, and get the most out of life.” His advice to students was to use all of Norwich’s resources to prepare them to lead, serve, and impact the world:
- You cannot do it alone
- Own your own mistakes
- Small tasks turn into large ones
- Put yourself in unfamiliar territory
- Believe that you are talented
- Make the most of every situation
CoLA Dean Ted Kohn said, “I know I speak on behalf of the entire College of Liberal Arts when I say how proud I was to hear Travis Morris had won the Dodge award for excellence in teaching. My admiration only increased upon hearing his Convocation Day speech, a speech I have heard President Schneider repeatedly reference. Dr. Morris is not only an inspiration to his students, but to all who strive to become the most effective teachers we can be.”
In addition to teaching courses on terrorism, police, criminology, violence, homeland security and an honors course on innovation, Dr. Morris manages independent studies and mentors student researchers. He is the faculty advisor to Alpha Nu Omega (National CJ Honor Society) and two other student organizations. He serves the Norwich Community via participation in committees and campus activities and carries out independent research which results in publications and academic presentations.
In his capacity as the director of the Peace and War Center, Dr. Morris works to promote research, creative works, public presentations, and experiences that advance interdisciplinary knowledge for students, scholars, and practitioners on the relationship between peace and war at local, national, and global levels. To date, the Center has hosted distinguished scholars and practitioners, led international trips, launched social media, participated in international competitions, won grants, and organized inter-disciplinary events.
In 2016-2017, Dr. Morris recruited and directed the NU team in a national collegiate competition Peer to Peer (P2P) Challenging Extremism aimed at countering domestic and foreign terrorism. The team won first place against 44 other universities and was sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security, the State Department, and Facebook to create social media tools that counter the online propaganda campaigns of terrorist organizations.
One of the P2P team members, Akshay Awasthi, who will graduate in December, said, “In my opinion, Dr. Morris is the perfect choice for the Dodge Award. He has all the qualities that a winner of this prestigious award should have. After working with him for more than a year now, I have learned a lot. Not just as a student or an academic, but also as a human being. His leadership qualities are unique, and I think that can be seen in his students. I will definitely keep working with Dr. Morris after graduating in any capacity via e-meetings.”