Meet Billy Morris, Geology Instructor with a Love of the Outdoors and a Knack for Baking

Professor Billy Morris

Billy Morris is an Associate Professor of Geology at Georgia Highlands College, and has been an instructor with eCore since the very early days of 2001/2002. We talked to Professor Morris about his appreciation for online teaching, how he came to be a geologist, and his life outside of the virtual classroom. (He has a pretty INSANE cookie-baking record!) He's also got some really great advice for online students.

Where did you complete your degree(s)?
Georgia Southern University and Emory University.

What drew you to the field of Geology?
My parents are responsible. They took me camping and hiking for as long as I can remember, and they liked to collect things, rocks, fossils, plants, stray animals. It was fun and I haven’t stopped since. I would not do well in a city or an office, would much rather be outside. Geology is a way to do that.

Why did you choose to become a college instructor?
My mom taught college for 40 years and my dad managed the college bookstore, so I grew up around college students. I find the combination of earth science and the energy of higher education to be irresistible and gratifying.

What do you like most about teaching online?
Of course the flexibility of schedule is great, but the immense amount of visual, graphic, and spatial information is wonderful for teaching/learning Geology online. Often the class is made up of students who have or currently live outside the southeast US, and it’s great fun to hear of their travels and experiences. These students bring a fresh perspective to the course that can be hard to find in a classroom.
Just a little fishing in my spare time...

What was your most challenging subject in school, and how did you get through it?
Calculus 2. Persistence - I took it more than once.

What do you like to do in your free time?
I have a few acres, a greenhouse, fruit, nut, berry orchards and a field garden. I like to eat good food, so I spend a lot of time tending plants and the land. I like to fish, hunt, camp, hike, climb, but when it comes to the cold wet time of year I move into the music room and play guitar, mandolin, and keyboards.  I just bought a 1960 Hammond tonewheel organ at Goodwill that’s in amazing condition, so I’m having a concert every night!

What’s your favorite movie of all time?
Easy – Babe

If you had to choose a different profession, what would it be?
Captain of charter fishing boat.

If you won the lottery, what would you do with your winnings?
Pay off the house. Buy a big sailboat. Leave the rest for the kids.

What is something interesting about you that your students would be surprised to know?
Where to start?

Hitchhiking to
Denali National Park
in Alaska
I’ve hitchhiked through Alaska with one of my kids for their ‘Senior Trip’. It was awesome!

I have officiated two different wedding ceremonies where I had the honor of joining good friends in marital bliss.  In spite of me and to their credit, they’re still together!

I have an intense relationship with my youngest daughter on a foosball table. We’re both good, and we take turns whipping each other. She went to grad school up in Ohio where she learned some new tricks, but I've had to show her that old age and treachery can beat new tricks any day.

The Annual Fifty Dozen Cookie Day
Here’s another - I love to bake cookies, but only once a year right before Christmas on Fifty Dozen Cookie Day. This is the holiday set aside for baking as many cookies as is physically possible in a normal home kitchen. My son and I started this family tradition when he was 15 and bored and I said “I wonder if we could bake 50 dozen cookies today?” He bit, and we burned out a couple of hand-mixers, came way short and had a great time. Since then we’ve pegged out and quit keeping count. Maximum was a few years ago at 176 dozen and required a couple of Kitchen Aids and an oven manager. We don’t have anything else to prove, but we do have a lot of friends coming over to join this year’s fun!

What advice do you have for students taking online classes for the first time?

Get into the course fast and deep. Check in with your instructor and let your intentions be known. Get all the required supplies immediately. Set a schedule for completing the coursework and if it breaks down, let your instructor know right away. You’ll find that staying on track and in touch is the key to success.


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