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Papers of William E. Morgan

Identifier: UWEM

Scope and Contents

The Papers of William E. Morgan consists of documents dated 1930 to 2003, with the bulk falling from 1947 to 1993. The papers document President Morgan's administration with Colorado State University/Colorado Agricultural and Mechanical College as well as his involvement with various federal and higher educational organizations. Materials include correspondence, memos and financial reports, as well as university organizations' meeting minutes and agendas. Organizations documented in the papers include the Federal Prison Industries board, the Central Intelligence Agency, Air University, and the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education.

Along with paper-based files, the collection contains photographs, VHS tapes, slides, awards, and other artifacts dating from 1943 to 2001, as well as a small amount of Morgan family papers dating 1831 to 1929. The collection contains many artifacts, including framed and unframed awards and pictures, paperweights, plaques, and scrapbooks from various organizations Morgan was involved with either professionally or personally.


  • Creation: 1831-2003
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1947-1993


Restrictions on Access

There are no access restrictions on this collection.

Restrictions on Use

Not all of the material in the collection is in the public domain. Researchers are responsible for addressing copyright issues.


William E. "Bill" Morgan, served as the 8th president of Colorado State University from 1949 to 1969. He earned his B.S. in 1930 from Texas A & M College, his M.S. in 1933 from the University of California, and spent 1939-1940 at Harvard University on a Rockefeller Scholarship. Previous to his appointment as president at Colorado State, Morgan served as an agricultural economist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, professor of Economics at the University of Texas, extension economist at Texas A & M College, and president of Arkansas A & M College.

William Morgan was born in Fort Worth, Texas, on May 30, 1909, and spent much of his childhood working on his family's ranch. He enrolled at Texas A & M College with the intention of becoming a cattle breeder, but soon developed a keen interest in the field of agricultural economics. After earning his B.S. degree in agricultural administration in 1930, he accepted a position as assistant registrar at his alma mater.

Morgan entered the graduate program in agricultural economics at the University of California at Berkeley, earning his M.S. in 1933. After earning his master's degree, he returned to his former position at Texas A & M and he married Lilla Bryan in 1933. They soon left Texas A & M following an invitation for Morgan to become an agricultural economist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. While in Washington, D.C., Lilla gave birth to their daughter, Dorcas Murray (nee Morgan) in 1934. Morgan accepted a position at the University of Texas as professor in economics in 1935 and moved on to a post with the Extension Service at Texas A & M in 1936, which he held until 1946. His son Bryan was born in 1937. After several years, he accepted a Rockefeller Scholarship that allowed him to attend Harvard University from 1939 to 1940.

Morgan held an army reserve commission and in 1941 he was ordered to report for active duty in the Army Air Corps. His military service included duty in Washington and later the China-Burma-India Theater. After his active duty assignment ended in 1946 he returned briefly to Texas A & M, left to pursue a private business undertaking, and then accepted the position as president of Arkansas A & M College.

Taking a leave of absence, in August 1948 Morgan joined the Food and Agricultural Section of the European Recovery Program in Paris, France as Deputy Chief for the Marshall Plan. Morgan accepted the position as president of Colorado A & M in 1949.

Morgan was an experienced administrator, with knowledge of land-grant higher education and a solid background as an agricultural economist. The most pressing problem confronting him when he assumed office was the task of finding adequate income to support the college's operations. He understood that future difficulties could be averted only by long-term planning. Enrollment projections, physical plant requirements, contemplated programs, and fiscal needs were among the matters that received his attention. Morgan met this challenge by actively seeking federally sponsored contracts and grants and promoting a strong graduate program in carefully defined fields.

Soon the name of Colorado Agricultural and Mechanical College no longer adequately conveyed the school's true function and mission. Under Morgan's leadership, effective May 1, 1957, Colorado A & M became Colorado State University.

His farsighted and coherent concept of campus planning resulted in the emergence of a vastly expanded modern campus, transforming the institution into a bona fide university. Moreover, his political skill in dealing with the legislature and in promoting cooperation among the state's institutions of higher learning, his grasp of the importance of contracts and grants research, and his courageous stand in securing a proper library for the school were all reflections of strong and able leadership.

During the late 1960s, campus unrest--focusing on student rights, civil rights, and Vietnam War opposition--became a major institutional issue. Weary of pressures related to the student power movement, Morgan retired as president effective June 1969.

In addition to his academic appointments, Morgan held various leadership positions in both federal and higher education organizations, including: chairman of the Economics Research Advisory Committee to the Secretary of Agriculture (1952-1960); commissioner, Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (1956-1972); member, Board of Visitors to the Air University, U.S. Air Force (1959-1961); member, Agricultural Advisory Committee, W.K. Kellogg Foundation (1961-1967); director, president and chairman of the Executive Committee of Associated Rocky Mountain Universities, Inc. (1963-1967); director, Federal Prison Industries, Inc. (1966-1996).

Bill and Lilla Morgan remained active in cultural and civic endeavors, providing Colorado State University and cultural organizations with endowments and funding. Lilla Morgan died on August 16, 1991. William E. Morgan died on March 17, 2005, at the age of 95.


37 linear feet (16 record cartons, 4 flat boxes, 3 oversize boxes, 2 document cases)

Language of Materials



William E. Morgan (1909-2005) served as president of Colorado Agricultural and Mechanical College/Colorado State University from 1949 to 1969. During his tenure, Morgan's farsighted and coherent concept for the growth of the institution resulted in its transformation from a small agricultural college to a state university. He was intensively involved with the bureaucratic process for the university as well as for other institutions, serving on outside boards and agencies. Materials document both university and additional service and consist of paper-based files, photographs, VHS tapes, slides, awards, and other artifacts dating from 1930 to 2001.


The collection consists of 5 series in 16 record cartons, 4 flat boxes, 3 oversize boxes, and 2 document cases:

Series 1: Subject files, 1930-2003 and undated

Series 2: Media, 1949-2000 and undated

Subseries 2.1: Slides, 1950-1966, 1993, 2000 and undated

Subseries 2.2: Photographs and negatives, 1949-1990, 1996-1999 and undated

Subseries 2.3: Oral histories, tapes, and films, 1974, 2000 and undated

Series 3: Awards, scrapbooks, and artifacts, 1953-2001 and undated

Subseries 3.1: Academic awards, 1953-1969

Subseries 3.2: Artifacts, 1961-2001 and undated

Subseries 3.3: Plaques and awards, 1958-1996 and undated

Subseries 3.4: Scrapbooks and guest books, 1955-1958 and undated

Series 4: Morgan family papers, 1831-1929 and undated

Series 5: Books, 1943-1968


The Papers of William E. Morgan were donated to the University Archives in 1973. Three additional accretions were donated by Dr. and Mrs. Morgan, their daughter, Dorcas Morgan Murray, and Colorado State University faculty member, Dr. Frank Vattano in 2006, 2013, and 2014.

Online Materials

Some materials have been scanned and are available through the Colorado State University Libraries website. In the electronic version of this document, direct links appear in context.

Related Collections

The Records of the Office of the President, the papers of individual presidents, and the Records of Student Unrest are also held by University Archives. The Papers of Harry Rosenberg contains an essay written by Morgan, "What a Land Grant Institution is All About". VIEW


Initial processing was completed in February 2012. Materials were rehoused using acid-free folders, flat files, and boxes. Some folders had numbers that appeared to be part of a file numbering system that was inconsistently applied. Such folders were interfiled with folders on the same subject. Duplicates beyond two copies were removed from the collection. Metal fasteners were removed and photographs were sleeved. If slide boxes contained writing by Morgan, the box was photocopied and the sheet was added to the slide enclosure sleeve. A few framed items were removed from their frames; some items remain framed. Processing was completed in March 2014; additional sorting of awards, framed materials, and media was completed.

Inventory Note

Note: Title information supplied by the archivist is bracketed.

Guide to the Papers of William E. Morgan
Edited Full Draft
Prepared by Victoria Lopez-Terrill, Amy Meger and Karen Spilman
Copyright 2014
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the CSU Libraries Archives & Special Collections Repository

Fort Collins Colorado 80523-1019 USA