Gene R. Morris ’48

Gene enrolled in the University of Arizona to pursue a degree in engineering and pledged Kappa Sigma in 1948. “Kappa Sigma filled a great void in my life. As an engineering student, I had little time or opportunity for social involvement or friendships outside of my college. Kappa Sigma meant the creation of long time friends and, for all practical purposes, brothers to this day.”

Brother Morris was married to Irene at the beginning of his senior year – a year in which he embodied ‘diligence and commitment’ in order to attain his degree on his timeline. “I had to acquire 48 additional units for graduation in June. I carried 20 units per semester, obtained three units by correspondence and five units by examination. In addition, to have sufficient funds to survive, I worked twenty hours per week. Any sleep that I got was purely accidental.”

All that hard work reached fruition and he received a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering in 1951.

Gene held several jobs in civil engineering before starting a long career with the Arizona Department of Transportation. Gene served as a research engineer, eventually attaining the position of director of the Arizona Transport Research Center.

He was involved particularly in surfacing and was instrumental in the development of an asphalt-rubber surfacing for roadways. What began as a local project in Phoenix, with the support of Gene (now a nationally known engineer), was brought to national attention very quickly. Eventually it lead to the $1.1 million FHWA Demonstration Project #37 Discarded Tires in Highway Construction in the mid 1970’s, in which 35 states were contacted and contracts were let for 43 projects around the country.

Brother Morris, even after his retirement from ADOT in 1983, continues to share his expertise with private companies and serves as a key member of the Gene R. Morris ’48
RPA Technical Advisory Committee, keeping abreast of the latest industry advances.

He was awarded lifetime membership in the Association of Asphalt Paving Technologies (AAPT), and is a fellow in the American Society of Civil Engineers. He is also a member of the ASTM, The American Concrete Institute, and the National Society of Professional Engineers.

He has also been involved in the community, serving on the state of Arizona Governor’s Transportation Task Force and the Federal Highway Administration’s Committee for Pavement Management. These are two of the many other boards, groups, and workshops he participates in.

In 1972, Gene was named Engineer of the Year by the Arizona Society of Professional Engineers. He also received the esteemed W.J. Emmons Award from the Association of Asphalt Paving Technologies in 1982.

Brother Morris and his wife, Irene, have five children; Duene, Brent, Karen, Leslie, and Tim.