Chemistry Building renamed for Karen Morse

Western Today staff
Monday, December 17, 2012 - 10:12am

Science Education Lecture Hall Named for Joe Morse

The Western Washington University Board of Trustees on Dec. 14 approved naming the university’s Chemistry Building after WWU President Emerita Karen W. Morse.

“Over the course of her 15-year tenure as president, Karen Morse led Western through a period of tremendous growth – of the campus, the faculty, and the student body – while elevating its national reputation, setting the university on a trajectory to realize its present and future strengths,” said Peggy Zoro, chair of Western’s Board of Trustees.

A lecture hall in Western’s Science, Mathematics and Technology Education (SMATE) Building was named after Joe Morse, a retired WWU chemistry professor and the first director of Science Education.

“Karen and Joe Morse represent the very best of Western ideals. They have worked tirelessly in service to the university and students. The legacy of their achievements and commitment will continue on for many years at Western,” said Western President Bruce Shepard.

Karen Morse served as Western’s president from 1993 to 2008. During her tenure, campus infrastructure markedly improved: new facilities were constructed, essentially creating the South Campus as it is known today. In addition, carefully planned enrollment increases occurred and faculty numbers increased, resulting in a markedly improved student - faculty ratio.

The Chemistry Building, renamed the Karen W. Morse Hall, was completed in June 1993, with the chemistry department moving into the new building from Haggard Hall during the summer of that year. Several years ago, a 4,300 square-foot addition was added to the west side of the building to provide more research and instructional space.

Karen Morse, a former chemistry professor, was widely published in her field, has three patents to her name, is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and was awarded the Olin-Garvin Medal, the highest award given to a woman for her contributions to the field of chemistry.

Other South Campus buildings were completed while Morse was president and include: Biology (1993), SMATE (1996); Campus Services (2002); Wade King Student Recreation Center (2003); Communications (2004) and the Academic Instructional Center, or AIC, (2008). A number of major renovations also took place, including at the Viking Union, Edens Hall and Bond Hall.

“Joe and I are deeply touched by this recognition of our service on behalf of what we regard as the finest university of its kind anywhere. It was our honor to help our dedicated Western family – students, faculty, staff, alumni and donors – make a difference for Western’s students,” Karen Morse said.

Both Karen and Joe Morse were strong proponents of efforts to enhance Western’s education in the sciences, as reflected by an especially strong College of Sciences and Technology with its many fine departments and especially the superb chemistry department and Science, Mathematics and Technology Education (SMATE) program. As the first director of SMATE, Joe Morse provided the operational base for the new building and, working with the departmental faculty in the sciences and the Woodring College of Education, established the framework for SMATE’s faculty and staff appointments.

A dedication ceremony for the newly named Karen W. Morse Hall and Joe Morse SMATE lecture hall (now SMATE 130) will be held at a later date.


The Chemistry Building at Western Washington University has been renamed the Karen W. Morse Hall in honor of President Emerita Karen Morse. File photo by David Scherrer | WWU