Sara R. Morris, PhD, Appointed VP for Academic Affairs

March 31, 2020

BUFFALO, NY ― Canisius University President John J. Hurley announced today that Sara R. Morris, PhD, has been appointed vice president for academic affairs, effective immediately.  Morris has been serving in the position on an interim basis since July 2019. 

As vice president for academic affairs, Morris leads the largest division of the college through the development of a fresh academic vision that meets the needs of students, excites faculty, and inspires innovation and collaboration.  As such, she is a key member of President Hurley’s senior leadership team, responsible for all academic programs, including traditional and online offerings, and the close collaboration with other senior leaders in the planning and implementation of institution-wide initiatives.

Morris joined the Canisius University faculty in 1996 as an assistant professor of biology, and subsequently rose through the academic ranks to become full professor and coordinator of the college’s Environmental Science Program and then co-chair of the Biology Department.  During this time, Morris secured funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to establish the Science Scholars Program at Canisius, which provides scholarships and creative learning opportunities to students interested in pursuing careers in the biological sciences.  Known by her colleagues as a collaborative leader, Morris’ peers elected her to serve on the Faculty Senate, the Faculty Status Committee and the Strategic Planning Committee. 

In 2015, Canisius elevated Morris to associate vice president for academic affairs, a role in which she led the oversight of all curricula, including coordination with the New York State Department of Education and Middle States Commission on Higher Education. In this position, Morris also modernized the college’s curriculum management systems and oversaw the implementation of Canisius’ interactive catalog, course scheduling software and curriculum inventory management. 

Morris’ tenure at Canisius also includes several leadership positions.  She served as chair of the Academic Program Board and the Accreditation Oversight Committee; co-director of the Canisius Colleagues Program; and co-chair of the Academic Policies review manual. 

Morris’ contributions to the academic world and her teaching excellence earned her the Kenneth L. Koessler Distinguished Faculty Award at Canisius and induction into Alpha Sigma Nu, the Jesuit honor society at the college, both in 2016.  The College of Arts and Sciences conferred its Outstanding Teaching Award upon Morris in 2014.

Morris earned a BS in biology and a BA in French and fine arts from Presbyterian College in Clinton, SC.  She also holds an MS and PhD in zoology from Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. 

One of 27 Jesuit universities in the nation, Canisius is the premier private university in Western New York. Canisius celebrates its sesquicentennial anniversary during the 2019-20 academic year, marking 150 years of Jesuit education and leadership in the city of Buffalo and Western New York. Visit for more information about Canisius’ milestones and celebratory events.