It Made a Difference to That Starfish
A little boy saw thousands of starfish wash on the shore. They were going to die in the hot sun, so he picked them up, one at a time, and placed them back in the water. An old man watching said, "There's so many that your effort won't make a difference." The boy thought for a second, then placed another starfish in the water. "It made a difference to that starfish," he told the old man.
"That's the way we think about giving," says Don Morrison, William E. Leonhard Professor of Management, UCLA Anderson.
Sherie Morrison, professor of Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics at UCLA adds, "I have noticed that if you divide the world into the 'givers' and the 'takers' it's the givers who are a lot happier."
Being "givers" and "making a difference" is what the Morrisons have done throughout their more than 47 years of marriage and professional lives. They've given their time and considerable funds to multiple institutions within UCLA, most notably UCLA Anderson.
UCLA Anderson holds a soft spot in their hearts because their two daughters are graduates (Heather Felix, MBA '94; UCLA M.S. '92 and Michelle Oliva, MBA '95) in addition to Don being a leader within the MBA program. The couple is listed on UCLA Anderson's donor honor wall and their most recent gift to UCLA Anderson will help fund the MBA program's effort to attract top professors and prospective students.
"It's always hard to attract and retain faculty," says Don. "But we give out of a sense of gratitude," says Don.
"Gratitude and a desire to make a difference," adds Sherie.
The Morrisons make sure giving is a family value. Don and Sherie, who have two daughters and three grandchildren, regularly take their two grandsons, who live across the street from them, to Los Angeles homeless shelters. There, the Morrisons cook for the homeless and reinforce the importance of giving.
Not only have the Morrisons established a philanthropic legacy, but they have also established a professional legacy.
In 1982 Sherie worked with Nobel Prize recipient Paul Berg, developing genetically engineered antibodies. That research was lauded as a scientific breakthrough and now, Sherie continues to make great strides with cancer and the immune system.
As author or co-author of more than 90 articles in journals and as co-author of the book Stochastic Models of Buying Behavior, Don has also had a stellar academic career. But of all of his professional accolades, Don is most proud of his time he has given as a mentor. He is proud to have guided 18 Ph.D. students through the rigors of study, professional and family life.
"Nine of them have endowed chairs at major universities and one is a dean at the Sloan School at MIT," says Don.
Sherie adds, "Giving is about where your money and time make a difference."
Through their philanthropy, Don and Sherie Morrison will continue to make a difference. Like the little boy, who saved starfish one at a time, their gifts to UCLA Anderson and the greater UCLA family will make a difference for each UCLA Anderson student and each UCLA student for years to come.