Jim and Becky Morgan have helped to shape Cornell University through their volunteer service and thoughtful giving. Their philosophy of engagement has supported pioneer efforts by many university leaders. Moreover, their dedication and focused leadership has enhanced the Cornell alumni experience.
“Becky and Jim have been steadfast in their advocacy and support of Cornell for many years, and they are among the university’s most committed alumni,” says Kevin Mahaney, principal giving officer. “They have demonstrated a special dedication to the university through their drive to build a strong Big Red alumni network on the West Coast, in addition to their efforts to broker meaningful partnerships that leverage Cornell’s public engagement mission.”
Becky served as a Cornell University Trustee from 1998 to 2006 and became a Presidential Counselor and Trustee Emerita. Her contributions to the College of Human Ecology are remarkable. In 1991, she received the Human Ecology Dean’s Award for Public Service, and in 2011, she received the Human Ecology Alumni Association’s Helen Bull Vandervort Alumni Achievement Award. Her vision for the college as a vital part of the university inspired her and Jim to endow the Rebecca Q. and James C. Morgan Dean of the College of Human Ecology in 2001. In the same spirit, much of her giving supports scholarships for students and support for professors, including an endowed professorship in Fiber Science and Apparel Design.
Becky was active in 4-H during her youth and later as Assistant 4-H Agent for Tompkins County. She now helps youth in 4-H and elsewhere develop purpose in life through her generous grant to the PRYDE Program—Research on Youth Development and Engagement—within the College of Human Ecology. She also sponsors digital citizenship within the Cornell Social Media Lab. “My satisfaction comes from knowing students and young people are educated and engaged in learning,” says Becky.
As a member of the Human Ecology Campaign Committee, Becky was instrumental in the college’s success during the Cornell Now campaign. On a university level, she served on the Cornell Now Campaign Cabinet from 2006 to 2015. She was a California State Senator from 1984 to 1993.
Likewise, Jim works to strengthen Cornell’s community and network. He got his start with Cornell Clubs in southern and northern California, serving a term as president of the Cornell Club of Northern California. Jim served over 25 years as CEO of Applied Materials, the world’s largest manufacturer of semiconductor equipment, and he is currently Chairman Emeritus. He recently published a booklet, “Applied Wisdom for Nonprofits,” to encourage better leadership in the nonprofit sector.
Jim served on the Cornell University council from 1978 to 1991; he and Becky are now both life members of the Council. He was Cornell’s 24th Robert S. Hatfield Fellow in Economic Education in 2003 and was elected as a Presidential Councillor in 2009.
As founding members of the Cornell Silicon Valley Advisors, the Morgans have been instrumental in bringing innovative programming to the region and strengthening connections between the university and West Coast alumni. Jim lends his experience as a Silicon Valley leader to benefit many areas of the university, including the College of Engineering, the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, and the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management. Jim and Becky were also early advocates for forward-thinking changes at the university, including the Cornell Tech campus in New York City, Systems Engineering programs in the College of Engineering, and the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business.
Jim has been generous with his wise counsel. He provided advice and support to advance Cornell’s international strategy through the establishment of programs in China, including the Cornell China Center. Following their interests in Asia, the couple in 2011 funded and helped plan the Rebecca Q. and James C. Morgan Garden at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, a karesansui garden inspired by Japanese horticulture which provides a peaceful and beautiful space for students, faculty, staff, and visitors on campus.
The Morgans’ work on behalf of the university spans its many schools, colleges, and programs. “We’re both ambassadors,” says Jim. “We like to help with seed money and strategy, turning funding into actions.”