Faculty Spotlight | Mrs. Angela Morris
On a normal office day at Maranatha in April of 2021, Dr. William Licht, academic dean, walked into the office of Mrs. Angela Morris, who has been teaching at Maranatha for more than thirty years. “Would you be willing to be the head of the Humanities Department here?” he asked. Without a pause, she replied, “No.” She felt underqualified and insufficient. Yet a couple weeks and a lot of conversations later, she reluctantly returned to Dr. Licht to accept the position. She said to him, “Apparently, this is what God wants.” And while Morris still feels underqualified, she is anything but. The following interview allows you to hear Morris speak for herself about who she is, what she does, and most importantly, what she values.
What are your different roles at MBU?
I am a professor. I teach a lot of communications classes at various levels. I teach beginning-level Fundamentals of Public Speaking for freshmen, an Introduction to Online Communication, Persuasion, which is a more advanced class, and then I’ll be assuming a couple of more classes, like Media Studies and Advanced Rhetoric, which I’m really excited about. But I also teach over in the TESOL program, and that allows me to teach things like Linguistics and TESOL 1 and 2. Through the years, I’ve had a variety of classes. I see how God has used all of those to prepare me for my current position [as head of the Humanities Department], because God allowed me to understand the department.
How did you end up at MBU?
My senior year of college here, [Maranatha] asked me, “Would you be interested in teaching in the academy?” I loved teaching high schoolers, and that’s really what I saw myself doing for 40 years. And so I remember when they asked me if I wanted to teach college, I actually said no. I enjoyed what I was doing. And then they came back the next year and asked it again. I thought, “Lord, what are you asking of me? What do you want here?” So I started out just teaching one class: freshmen English. Freshmen English in college is so similar to teaching high school seniors! God allowed that transition to be very smooth. So for several years, all I taught was one or two classes in English so that I could be home with my children. And then the Lord just gradually expanded that. As my children grew, the Lord began to expand what He was going to ask me to teach. And so then that brought it in into Persuasion, and then He added on the TESOL. He didn’t do this epic transition from high school to college. It was gradual, and I’m so thankful that God allowed that because it let me get comfortable as He was stretching me.
You’re now the head of the Humanities Department. How did that transition happen?
It was April 2021. I’ll never forget Dr. Licht standing in my doorway, looking oddly at me, and I wasn’t sure what was coming. And he says, “Would you be willing to be the head of the department?” And I said no. I said no. And he just looked at me, and I said, “Ask this person or this person.” And he just kind of looked at me. I said, “Let me talk to my husband.” And I went home, and my husband said, “Well, yes, you need to do this.” That surprised me. But I still was not sure. So I called someone that I respect greatly. And they said, “Oh yes, you need to do this.” So then there was a third person that I have great respect for, and I said, “You can’t tell anybody, but this [position as head of the department] has been offered to me.” And they said, “Why wouldn’t you say yes?” I guess I realized I was waiting for somebody to say no, so that I could say no. And not one person said no. The Lord was saying, “I have made it very clear. And this isn’t about you. This is about Me.” And so I went back to Dr. Licht and said, “Okay, apparently this is what God wants.”
What are your new responsibilities as head of the Humanities Department?
I have the distinct privilege to work with a fabulous faculty. What a team God had already put together! I am just blessed to work with all of them. Primarily my desire is to help them succeed. They are already very talented; they are already very capable. Whatever I can do to help them succeed in the classroom—I want to hear their needs. I want to help us stay on track academically. We have a fabulous program here. We want to make sure that we’re doing justice in the educational realm. I also want to encourage my faculty. Being a teacher is a ministry that is wearying. I see a big part of my responsibility as just encouraging them. I also want to encourage our own students in the Humanities Department because they are where it’s at. I want to try to help cast a vision for them.
What are some of your goals as head of the department?
I want to maintain academic rigor because when our students go out, we want them prepared. The goal of the humanities is that triple pillar: critical thinking, communication, and excellence for God. So, I want to keep that academic rigor but continue updating it. I want to keep the heartbeat of being able to use these skill sets in their local churches. I just had a discussion with someone who informed me that one of our students is really involved in the media program at their church. And that just thrills me because I want this degree to be more than simply a paycheck. And then, I just want our students to fall in love with knowledge. It’s so important that we are ever learners. They are at the starting point of grabbing that knowledge, and then as they fall in love with it, they just keep doing it for the rest of their life.
Tell us about the Humanities Department. Why would you recommend a degree in this department?
There is a misunderstanding that humanities is for if you are not sure what you want to do with life. And that’s really not what it is. We are extremely focused in our degree. But the humanities itself encapsulates a variety of classes. For example, under humanities, we have our foreign language classes. We have our media classes. We have our English classes. We have our drama classes. So, there are a variety of classes that are within our department. For a humanities major, our goal then is to afford them the opportunity to critically think in every class.
Then we want to give you a chance to choose your bucket of specific classes. I spoke with a lawyer once who said, “I was an English major because I wanted to know how to write well, and I wanted to be well-read.” And so he was an English major, but he also did a lot of communications classes, and that helped him when he went into the courtroom. So the humanities degree can be used if you want to go on for another master’s degree. You can go on to perhaps work on a master’s degree. We’ve had journalists produced from our program. But meanwhile, our students get Bible classes. And so that’s where they can get that biblical underpinning. So our goal is a broad-based, well-balanced degree where students can select a photography concentration or a TESOL minor. We’re preparing them for the next step that God has for them.
Tell us about your family.
My amazing husband, Dwayne, is a graduate of Maranatha. He taught here for 25 years until God called him into being a full-time associate pastor at Calvary Baptist in Watertown. But the blessing of that is that he understands the realm of academia. So I can go home to him with questions, and he just has this ability to help me think through things and process things. And he knows Maranatha well.
I have three children who are all Maranatha graduates. My oldest daughter, Alysha, graduated with her bachelor’s degree in nursing. And she and her husband, Todd, who is a Maranatha graduate, live in New York, with our beautiful grandbaby Kyla. And then my son Judson. He graduated from the Education program, and his wife did as well. And they are both teachers on the island of Guam at Harvest Ministries. And then my youngest, Victoria, is a Maranatha graduate, and she’s currently working on her Ph.D. down at the University of Texas Medical Branch. God is kind.
What big projects are you working on currently?
We just had a big meeting to plan out the next four years of all the play productions and musicals–all the planning of the upcoming events. And it was quite a spreadsheet, but it’s just exciting. The Humanities Department and the Communications Department work hand in glove with the Music Department. And we’re beyond blessed with an amazing Music Department. But it takes that much planning ahead because there’s so many groups involved and so many people and so much to think through. Praise the Lord, a lot of talented people were sitting in that room, and I’m looking forward to our next four years of production. What’s coming down the pipe as far as plays and musical presentations in the next five years at Maranatha–it’s going to be good.