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Three generations share MSU as their alma mater

  • Three Generations
  • Three Generations 2
Everybody has a family tree, but if you looked at the family tree of Debra Hayden Morris (88), you’d see a good portion of it painted prominently with the blue and gold of Morehead State University.

In fact, including her father Michael Hayden (65) and her son Eric (12), Morris’ family includes three generations of MSU graduates who have their own fond memories of the institution.

This generational span of MSU Eagles began with Michael Hayden. A native of Parkersburg, W.Va., he was a multi-sport athlete at Parkersburg High School before enrolling at Ohio University on a football scholarship. After two years, an injury sent Hayden to the sidelines and caused him to re-evaluate his future. He decided to “change gears” by coming to MSU to pursue a degree in education. On his way to earning a bachelor’s degree in business education and social studies, Hayden said the University offered him an experience more suited to his needs.

“I was impressed by the size, because it wasn’t too big. I was impressed by the faculty. I was impressed with the closeness with the staff and the students, and I think that still exists,” Hayden said.

Hayden would later earn a master’s degree in education administration from West Virginia University (WVU) and go on to combine his love for education and athletics. He held coaching positions at high schools in Massillon, Ohio, and his hometown of Parkersburg. He later became the assistant principal and athletic director of Parkersburg High School from 1984 through 1999. From 1999 until his retirement in 2007, Hayden was the executive director of the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission, an organization that ran all middle school, junior high and high school athletic activities in the state.

Hayden had nothing but great things to tell his daughter about MSU when she was deciding on where to attend college. However, Morris didn’t share her father’s love for MSU at first. She originally had her heart set on WVU, but after a bit of persuasion, she made a trip to Morehead. It was a visit that quickly changed her mind.

“Once I stepped onto the campus, I just fell in love with it,” Morris said. “The campus was beautiful. Everyone I met and came in contact with was just so pleasant. I didn’t feel like I was a number. I think maybe that’s when I realized maybe that was what I wanted.”

Morris not only graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, she formed many lasting friendships and relationships. One of those relationships happened to be with her husband, Lonnie (87). Because Lonnie was a full-time residence hall director, the two of them lived on campus while raising their three children.

Morris currently resides in Morehead and is an associate professor at Maysville Community & Technical College – Rowan Campus. Like she and her father, her son Eric picked up a passion for teaching on his way to enrolling at MSU as recipient of the Morehead State University Presidential Scholarship. Eric said along with the reputation of its foreign language program and scholarship offerings, the fact that his family had amazing experiences there proved to be influential in his decision. It proved to be the right one from both an academic and social standpoint as he engaged with many students through various activities, events and organizations on campus.

“My mom met my dad at Morehead State,” Eric said. “I thought that even though it was right in my backyard, a lot of people tend to meet and make connections here.”

Eric graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish education with a minor in linguistics and is returning to MSU to obtain his master’s degree. While doing so, he’ll have the comfort of seeing some familiar faces on occasion in the form of his younger sisters, sophomore Lindsey Morris and junior Ashley Morris, who are continuing a family tradition of charting their success through MSU.

“They should name a building after us,” Mrs. Morris jokes. Whether it’s the University’s quality academic programs, its low cost or its undeniable hospitality, Debra Morris’ family is just one example of many Eagle legacy families that call MSU their alma mater.

“I felt about Morehead State University that once you’re there, they go through great pains to make sure that you’re going to graduate,” Hayden said. “That is the most important facet of education: caring about your students and making sure they succeed. I think that’s the important message that MSU has always sent.”

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