April 18, 2016


BUFFALO, NY - The Canisius College Alumni Association will confer its Kenneth L. Koessler Distinguished Faculty Award upon Sara R. Morris, PhD, during Spring Honors Convocation on Friday, May 20. The award, presented annually, recognizes a faculty member for teaching excellence and outstanding contributions to the academic world.

As a professor of biology at Canisius College, Morris is beloved by her fellow faculty and students. Morris’ passion for her discipline is immediately apparent in her classroom. Whether she is teaching introductory biology or upper-level classes such as ornithology and field ecology, Morris effectively combines her lectures with engaging images, videos and demonstrations to perfectly convey the subject matter. As a result, she energizes students with her infectious enthusiasm.

Graduates of the Biology Program are grateful for her dedicated mentoring, and the unique field experiences and research opportunities she offers. She maintains an active research team of Canisius undergraduate students that studies bird migration and has published 20 scholarly articles with her students or former students. Many of her former research students have been accepted into top graduate programs and are working in a variety of fields, including as doctors, veterinarians, researchers, college professors or high school biology teachers.

Morris is a prominent figure within the ornithological community. She is a member of the American Ornithologists’ Union and previously served in various leadership positions with the organization. Morris is currently president of the Wilson Ornithological Society and is on the steering committee for the North American Ornithological Conference. She teaches professional workshops in ornithology across the country.

Morris is a past recipient of an Oishei Teaching Professorship and a Peter Canisius Distinguished Professorship. Most recently, she authored an NSF-STEM grant that brought $600,000 to Canisius in support of science students. Morris has had a significant impact on the academic landscape of the college. She served as co-chair of the Biology Department and coordinator of the Environmental Science Program, and was integral to the revisions of the Biology Department’s curriculum. She has been active on the strategic planning committee, the faculty status committee, and Faculty Senate. Morris is currently the associate vice president for academic affairs.

Morris holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Presbyterian College, and master’s and doctoral degrees in zoology from Cornell University. She began teaching at Canisius College in 1996.

Canisius College is one of 28 Jesuit universities in the nation and the premier private university in Western New York.