Ed Morrison: Coming Home to Make a Difference

Release Date: October 22, 2010

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Ed Morrison, the chief marketing officer in the UB School of Dental Medicine

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- When Ed Morrison took his position as chief marketing officer for the University at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine in August 2010, there was no slow, getting-to-know-you period of adjustment. The dental school was in the middle of the accreditation process and Morrison had to jump in to help with preparation and assessment.

"It was the best and fastest way to get up to speed on everything happening," Morrison said, "it immersed me in the business of the school and flattened the learning curve."

Morrison is no stranger to a fast-paced environment having worked in the airline industry before coming to UB. As Northeast district manager for United Airlines, Morrison was responsible for $980 million in sales, marketing, customer support operations, as well as managing seven sales managers. He would often be on a plane at 6 a.m. and arrive home after 7 p.m.

But he was a Western New Yorker at heart. Born and raised in West Seneca near the Buffalo-West Seneca line, Morrison has always loved this area. Even when he was based in different cities and travelling all over the world, he kept a residence here. Morrison feels that the Buffalo area has all the amenities of a large city with the warmth and values of a small town.

These values have come to mean a great deal to Morrison who wanted to spend more time with his wife, Julie, and their two children while working to serve the community he loves.

"My priorities have changed as I have matured—my family is very important to me. I don't just want to be active in their lives; I want to be present," said Morrison.

He credits the atmosphere in the dental school—which embodies his values—and the vision of UB 2020 as what drew him to UB. Morrison saw where UB was going and picked up on the great opportunities taking place under the leadership of the school's new dean, Michael Glick.

It turned out to be an ideal match. The dean noted that Morrison's professional experience and accomplishments within the airline industry make him the perfect choice to lead the school's marketing efforts as "we look to strengthen our brand, manage strategic initiatives and prosper despite recent state budget cuts."

Morrison is using the skill set he brought from the private sector to facilitate the goals of the dean's new strategic plan. Morrison is beginning his tenure as Glick's strategic planning for the dental school is almost finished. Glick has taken several months to include all dental school employees in a process to brainstorm improvements on the educational processes and services of the dental school. The goal is to be innovative, taking a look at what they do and finding ways to do it better.

Morrison's position was created as a result of this strategic planning process.

"The school's strategic planning process and discussions within the School of Dental Medicine identified the need for an individual and resources dedicated to marketing the school," Glick said. "Clear communication of our accomplishments and vision to the UB family, to the immediate community and beyond is an essential part of our strategic plan."

The dean's strategic planning process has one more session (there are four in all). Morrison will participate in that session where Glick will integrate all of the information gleaned over the last few months and craft it into a final plan.

Morrison sees his new marketing role as three-fold.

He will be building and protecting the dental school's brand of pursuing excellence through education, research and service. He wants to build brand awareness and instill pride within the dental school, among alumni, in the local community and on a national academic level.

He will be helping the dean implement the new strategic plan ensuring that a strong communications plan is in place, working with University Communications, to facilitate the plan's success. According to Morrison, managing a culture of change is almost as important as change itself.

And, with the help of dental school administrators Annamarie Phalan and Linda Topolnycky, Morrison will be managing the UB Continuing Dental Education service, which provides health care education to dentists and dental hygienists in Western New York.

When asked what his greatest professional accomplishment is, he reflects for a moment and says, "The greatest satisfaction I have gotten has come from seeing someone I've mentored reach his or her goals and potential."

While the walls of Morrison's office are still bare, the desk is overflowing with current projects. Sitting behind his desk, talking about his new position, Morrison is clearly right where he wants to be.

"Think about it; we're educating students to make a difference in people's lives and you get to see how your efforts go into improving the quality of life in the community," Morrison says. "I've never experienced that emotional attachment to my work before. Don't tell my supervisor, but I'd do this job for free!"

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.

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