Fishburne taps Morrison for superintendent position
The new superintendent at Fishburne Military School is a familiar face in the FMS community.
Gary R. Morrison, a 1981 graduate of Fishburne who also served on the faculty and later as the director of admissions, was named to the top administrative position at the school at a meeting of the Fishburne-Hudgins Educational Foundation Board of Trustees on Thursday.
Morrison will succeed Col. Roy F. Zinser as superintendent effective Oct. 1.
At a Friday news conference, Morrison called his appointment “a tremendous honor” and “tremendous responsibility.”
“Essentially I’ve got to be the parent for about 150 young men right now whose parents have entrusted to us that responsibility. But I’ve also got to protect the traditions, history and the memories of all of our alumni,” Morrison said.
The weight of responsibility wears heavier for someone who was introduced to the Corps of Cadets on Thursday by Foundation President Ted Moroney, FMS ’73, as being “one of you.”
“He lived for four years in the same barracks. He went through the same trials and tribulations, and he understands better than most what it takes to be a cadet in the classroom, in the corps and on the athletic field,” Moroney said at the ceremony introducing Morrison.
“Our national search resulted in finding our ideal candidate in our own backyard. Gary Morrison has been a cadet, a teacher, a department head and now becomes our superintendent. His breath of experience in all aspects of Fishburne life leaves him well-positioned to hit the ground running,” Moroney said.
Acting Superintendent Susan J. Johnson applauded the choice, noting that Morrison “has demonstrated that he knows how to present the unique opportunities available here to the exceptional as well as the underperforming student.”
“In the classroom and the athletic arena he has revealed the skills needed to bring out the best in the reluctant scholar or the wavering team player,” Johnson said.
Board of Trustees Chairman J. B. Yount III, FMS ’56, said that the new superintendent “knows and loves Fishburne.”
“He remembers what it did for him as a cadet. He understands the changes in needs, personality, and anxieties facing today’s young people. He is eloquent in expressing the school’s requirements and necessities to its alumni, potential supporters, and friends,” Yount said.
Morrison had previously served as director of admissions from 1997 to 2004 after a stint on the faculty from 1989 to 1993, teaching biology, chemistry and English. A 1985 High Honors graduate of Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa., Morrison most recently served as senior account manager for Cadence Inc., in Staunton, a premier manufacturer of precision medical devices.
Morrison also has national recognition as a successful motivational speaker, conducting original seminars on the art of expanding opportunities, team-building and leadership, and as an author with his book, Your Kids-Their Future.
During his industrial experience with NALCO, the world’s leading purveyor of water, energy, and air improvement systems, he was known regionally for helping to initiate and implementing the Shenandoah Valley Green Conference with Blue Ridge Community College and James Madison University, which focused on environmental sustainability in the industrial/institutional market.
Earlier, while at Waynesboro’s United Servo Hydraulics, he developed and presented training to international power-providers that was widely heralded and published in a leading industrial journal.
“This is the third time Gary Morrison has left success in the business world to return to the academic or administrative challenge of his alma mater, Fishburne Military School. If past performance proves a sound indicator of the future, there is great cause for optimism as he assumes the all-important role of superintendent,” said Rob Grey, FMS ‘83, the vice president of the Fishburne-Hudgins Educational Foundation.
Morrison challenged cadets at his introduction to them on Thursday to take indiividual responsibility for leadership of the corps. His own leadership style involves a teamwork-oriented approach that takes advantage of the quality people that FMS has on its faculty and staff.
“The beautiful thing about Fishburne is that they’ve always managed to atract quality people,” Morrison said. “I’ve always told people that you could level this building and put a picnic table up, and if you took the same people that we have up here and stood them around that table, parents would flock to this place, because it’s the people that make the difference.”
Morrison listed as his top priority his interest in working to increase enrollment.
“A lot of our bills are paid by tuition, but then the alumni pick up the gap, and they do it just to keep the school open for their sons and grandsons and nephews and their friends. So they’re willing to do it, and they come through for us every year. It would be nice to get to the point where the school is full, and all of that money that comes in from the alumni gets used on the physical side of the campus, it’s used in endowments, where we can permanently secure the school. I think that’s probably a key drive of mine,” Morrison said.
Another key priority is increasing the participation of cadets in community activities.
“I would like to see the school more involved in the town. I would like the town to know that we’re at their disposal. We’ve got a lot of energy up here. We’ve got a lot of real strong backs and smart kids. If there’s churches or organizations that want us, we are ready, willing and able to help,” Morrison said.