Bob Morgan 'A Professor to Remember'

January 8, 2009 — Robert J. Morgan, professor emeritus of government, died Jan. 2 in Bryan, Texas. He was 91.

Morgan earned his Ph.D. from the University of Virginia in 1951. He taught at the University of Nebraska before returning to U.Va. as an associate professor in 1957. He retired in 1989.

A noted scholar of American government, Morgan published several books, including "James Madison on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights." He twice served as department chairman.

Politics professor Larry Sabato was a student of Morgan's in the early 1970s, when Morgan directed the government and foreign affairs honors program, now the politics honors program. Morgan taught the honors students a required political theory seminar.

"Bob was a tough taskmaster," Sabato said. "He expected excellence, as well as timely delivery of weekly essay papers and regular class attendance. ... You lived for a good mark on an occasional paper; most of the time, there were more red-pen corrections than you had provided in black typescript, with an appropriate directive to 'revise and resubmit.' ... We loved him, because he insisted that we produce our best work and he would accept no lazy excuses. Most of us write better today than we ever would have done because of his careful attention to detail and high standards. Bob Morgan was a professor to remember."

Morgan's focus was political theory, but Sabato pointed out "he had a passion for American politics and was an active Democrat."

Recognizing Morgan's dedication to the honors program, the Robert J. Morgan Endowment for Government and Foreign Affairs Honors Fund was established to support academic activities of the politics honors program, such as student field trips, stipends for research travel and funds for visiting lecturers and symposia.

Morgan is survived by a sister, a son, a daughter, three grandchildren and a great grandchild. His late wife, Naomie, earned a master's of education at the University in 1964; both of their children attended U.Va.; and one of his granddaughters is currently a student here.

It was Morgan's wish that he be cremated and his ashes, along with those of his late wife, cast in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. No memorial service is planned.

— By Anne Bromley