Morris Whitaker '74: Dartmouth Alumni Award Recipient, 2010-11
Morris Whitaker '74 (right) was presented the
Dartmouth Alumni Award by Gary Love, member
of the Alumni Award Committee, at the Black
Alumni of Dartmouth Association Reunion,
A gifted athlete from Eastside High School in Paterson, New Jersey, you were ready to attend Livingston College on a full scholarship for track and football. Dartmouth came into consideration after some favorable reviews from former high school teammate George Riley '73, and, frankly, you liked the football uniforms! Lucky for us, you were admitted and playing in one of those eye-catching uniforms for the Big Green before you knew it.
Helping Dartmouth to two Ivy League championships, you were a star safety and led the team in interceptions as captain of the defensive secondary team your senior year. You appreciated your experience on the team for not only its success, but because it also gave you the opportunity to bond with classmates you otherwise might not have known.
You brought just as much spirit and energy to life off the football field. You were on the Interdormitory Council and completed a Tucker Fellowship your sophomore year teaching at Oakland High School in California. You were also able to engage in one of your greatest passions: music. You were in the Glee Club and a singer for the popular undergraduate band, the Green Dream. You stress that the Dartmouth Plan turned out to be one of the best aspects of your college experience, allowing you ample time to focus on football in the summer, and also to spend your winter terms at the University of California, San Diego your junior year, and back to California your senior year on an independent study through the music department where you reconnected with former Green Dream bandmates and joined their new group, Mantis, as lead vocalist. With gigs all over the East Bay in California, your band even made a record before you returned to Dartmouth to complete your spring term. Your four years at Dartmouth took place in the midst of a significant cultural progression for the College, and women were first admitted your junior year. How appropriate that you majored in history.
Upon graduation, you rejoined Mantis, with whom you toured the country for three years. It was then off to Washington, D.C., where you started a well-respected career in social services with federally funded youth programs, job placement services, the D.C. Commissions on Social Services and Public Health, health education centers, residential substance abuse treatment facilities, and a foster care program, among others. In 1998, you switched gears to work in radio sales for the Carolina Panthers football organization and eventually for Urban Sports & Entertainment Group. Here you gained a wealth of knowledge and experience in the business side of the sports industry before founding in 2004 your own sports marketing agency, Millennia Solutions in Charlotte, North Carolina, where you are currently one of the managing partners.
Your involvement with Dartmouth was actually spurred by not attending your fifth-year reunion, because that is when you were nominated in absentia for class president! You accepted the challenge, and since then have contributed in numerous roles for the College. In addition to president, you have served your class as vice president and class agent; on the Alumni Council as chair of the Student Life Committee and member of the Nominating and Alumni Trustee Search Committee; as an Enrollment Interviewer; and diligently for the Black Alumni of Dartmouth Association as president, second vice president, treasurer, and Washington, D.C. regional representative.
No less involved in your community, you have volunteered with such organizations as the Everyday Theater Youth Ensemble as trustee, the Carolina Panthers Youth Sports Camp as a volunteer coach, the Long Creek Optimist Club as director of the basketball program, and as a member of the Dawn Staley Foundation, the Charlotte Regional Sports Commission, and the Sports Leadership Initiative -- a program you created to provide local youth the chance to meet every Sunday to play basketball and receive your mentorship.
Throughout the years, you never lost your groove. Music has always been a major part of your life, and you still can be found singing, currently with A Sign of the Times, a 21-piece jazz group, and your church choir.
Of course, all of this could not have been accomplished without the support of your wife, Linda, who has often wondered if, when it comes to Dartmouth, you turn anything down. You and Linda are the proud parents of Manya '06 and Clint.
You have said that you've always felt that making a difference mattered. Rocky, you have unquestionably made a profound difference in the countless lives of others, which is precisely the reason you are standing up here this evening. For all that you are to your family, your community, your profession, and your alma mater, it is our great privilege to honor you with the Dartmouth Alumni Award.