Springfield, MO

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Tawnie Wilson | SBJ

2024 Men of the Year: Matthew D. Morris

Missouri State University

Posted online

Matthew D. Morris’ job title is deceptively short. As vice president for administration and finance at Missouri State University, Morris oversees multiple departments: Human Resources, University Safety, Environmental Management, Facilities Management, Planning Design and Construction, and Financial Services.

It’s a “heavy workload,” says MSU President Clif Smart.

But Morris relishes it and the profound impact he and the university have on the region. How does he do it? Leadership.

“I believe in leading by example. I hold myself to a higher standard than my staff. I pride myself on providing my team with the tools, clear instruction and constructive feedback so they can succeed,” says Morris.

He describes himself as a “grateful, hard-working, first-generation college graduate.” His parents encouraged education but could not contribute financially so he worked to pay for his undergraduate degree from Pittsburg State University and his master’s degree from MSU.

“This work experience convinced me to continue my career in higher education,” says Morris. “I fell in love with the higher education mission and contributing to something bigger than myself.”

His accomplishments during the 24 years he’s been employed by MSU are impressive. Those include overseeing projects that garnered the university the Developer of the Year award from the Springfield Contractors Association two times in five years, 2014 and 2018. As well, Forbes ranked MSU fifth among Missouri’s best employers in 2021. His reorganization of the safety department enhanced planning, prevention, and emergency response services, especially helpful during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the past year, he organized an expanded division that melded administration and finance, developing a team of 289 full-time and 140 part-time professionals serving students, faculty, staff and the community while managing the university’s financial assets, totaling $357 million. He oversaw multiple construction projects on the Springfield and West Plains campuses as well as strategic property purchases and sales, including the purchase of property within IDEA Commons downtown.

Morris contributes his time and talents to myriad community organizations, including the boards of Ozark Greenways Inc. and North Point Church. One of his proudest civic accomplishments was serving on a volunteer team behind the creation of the Springfield Dream Center. Established in 2017, it gives practical help and life-changing hope to families in northwest Springfield and offers supporters the opportunity to make a direct impact by providing resources to help families gain stability.

Aside from leadership, Morris – who was The Network’s 2015 Young Professional of the Year – credits focus for his success.

“I believe, follow and stress three things to my own family to be successful in life,” he says. “Love others, be a problem-solver, and take responsibility for his own successes and failures.”


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