Legendary 'Rock 'n' Roll' Purdue professor passes away

Legendary Purdue University professor who taught the history of Rock 'n' Roll passed away Sunday. Michael Morrison taught at Purdue from 1991 to 2016.

Posted: Feb 12, 2018 2:26 PM
Updated: Feb 12, 2018 2:44 PM

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - Legendary Purdue University professor who taught the history of Rock 'n' Roll passed away Sunday.

Michael Morrison taught at Purdue from 1991 to 2016.

Throughout the years he taught many classes, but his staple was the history of Rock 'n' Roll.

"Sometime in the late 1990s, he started developing this class," said John Larson, a close friend and colleague. "It just took over. It became his signature and the students were wild about it."

But it was more than just the music.

"Mike made it an enormously serious and important content. He took them back to rhythm and blues, the beginning of black music in this country," said Larson. "He managed to slip an enormous amount of really serious social history, particularly dealing with race as he worked his way through. So, the Rock 'n' Roll became a device by which he could accidentally feed people a lot of good history."

Larson is a history professor at Purdue. He was the one who helped Morrison get the job in the first place.

"His athleticism in the classroom was legendary," joked Larson. "One day, apparently in the middle of a History 151 lecture, he hopped up on one of the tables and like a mountain goat hopped all the way to the top on the tables and all the way back down again. And the students were just like, 'wow!'"

Over his 25 years, Morrison won countless teaching awards.

In 1998, the Carnegie Foundation named him Indiana Professor of the Year.

"He will be remembered as one of the most generous, genuine and committed educators," said Larson. "There was almost nothing that you could ask him to do that he wouldn't, especially if it were for the students."

Morrison was 68 years old.

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