Kathy Morlan: Once a Teacher, Always a Learner
Mention University Libraries and Kathy Morlan's face lights up. She is most excited about the learning that the helpful staff, terrific collections, and appealing environment make possible. She has seen the difference this learning makes in the lives of UNLV students—because she was once one of those students.
Morlan is the epitome of the lifelong learner. As a child in rural Maine, she reveled in discovering new things in school and on her family's farm. Her sense of adventure took her to California, where she made one of her greatest discoveries: her future husband, Jerry Morlan. A shared enthusiasm for learning brought them together, and their commitment to common goals and to each other kept them together.
Kathy and Jerry Morlan encouraged each other's thirst for education. When Jerry became burned out as a successful industrial photographer, Kathy encouraged him to pursue his dream of becoming a teacher. Who cared if it meant selling the house and moving away from the beach? It was a new adventure to share. Their adventure brought them to Las Vegas in 1978. Jerry taught industrial arts in the Clark County School District and loved every minute of it. A few years later, it was Kathy's turn to quit her job and finish her Bachelor of Arts degree at UNLV so she could teach.
Kathy recalls how Jerry was always full of ideas to benefit his students, even if it meant ruffling a few feathers. With his passion for teaching and his perspective from industry, he realized that students needed more than woodworking to get a job after high school. In the mid-1980s he garnered local community and business support and retrofitted a wood shop into the first technology lab in Clark County schools. In the process, he generated enough attention that they even heard about Jerry in Carson City. It didn't take long for everyone, even former detractors, to see the benefit of teaching students how to work with technology.
As a student, Kathy appreciated using UNLV's former library, the Dickinson Library, but her interest in the Libraries soared after she discovered the treasures in Special Collections. Kathy recognized, with the help of her friend, longtime Libraries supporter Flo Mlynarczyk, that the letters and articles chronicling Jerry's efforts to start the technology labs were an important part of Las Vegas history. After he died, she donated the Jerry Morlan Papers to Special Collections. She became a member of the Dean's Associates in 2003 to support the Libraries. Her teaching experience naturally attracted her to the Curriculum Materials Library, where she helped with various projects.
Following her retirement from teaching, Kathy decided to give another lasting gift, one that would help the Libraries and directly benefit students for decades to come. "I wanted to give a substantial gift right now to support library programs for undergraduates," Kathy says. "But, since I need to support myself, it couldn't happen that way."
However, as she planned her future she saw a distinct possibility. She revised her will to include a generous bequest to establish the Jerry and Kathleen Morlan Endowed Fund for University Libraries. This endowed fund will support the University Libraries' programs, particularly those benefiting education and mentor programs for undergraduate students. The University Libraries is truly grateful to Kathy and Jerry Morlan, whose foresight and generosity will provide educational opportunities to innumerable future students.