Alumni Spotlight: Carl Morris ’56

1956 - Carl Morris as a Cadet (2)Ask almost anyone for a short list of the most influential Army and Navy Academy graduates in its 106-year history, and Carl Morris‘ name will be there.

A Model Cadet

When Morris marched through the Senior Gate at graduation for the final time in June 1956, he left behind a sterling record of academic achievement, the highest military rank, President of the Honor Council, and a gold-plated reputation for integrity. On the other side of the gate, awaiting him, was a distinguished career in academia. A half-century later, Morris is one of Harvard’s most important makers and shapers.

Post-Academy Education

While it’s never easy to come up with a remarkable second act after leaving ANA, Morris’ encore performance was just as glitzy: A B.S. degree in aeronautical engineering from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in 1960; a M.S. degree in mathematics from the University of Indiana in 1962, and another M.S. degree in statistics from Stanford University in 1964; and a Ph.D in statistics from Stanford in 1966.

Before entering the hallowed halls of Harvard in 1990, Morris journeyed through the academic vineyards at the University of California, Santa Cruz; the University of Texas, Austin; Stanford University; the Rand Corporation, an internationally respected Think Tank; and Harvard, as a Professor of Statistics at the Harvard Medical School and in the Statistics Department, where he was chairman, 1994-2000 and 2012-15.

An Incredible Career

Over the decades, Morris has earned awards, honors and recognition in research, theory and scientific applications in mathematics, statistics, health policy, and behavioral sciences. He is a director of the Center of Statistical Sciences and a consultant for the Educational Testing Service.

1956 - Carl Morris in his office at HarvardHe’s an Ivory Tower intellectual, no doubt. But there’s another side to Morris, a non-nerdy, hip side that holds swarms of statistics-savvy and sports-savvy students in awe. He has garnered a distinguished reputation by performing pioneering work in the theory of statistics as applied to sports and competition.

Morris has done significant research and analysis for Major League Baseball, the commissioner’s office, the Boston Red Sox, the Major League Players Association, the National Football League, and individual professional teams. His mathematical and statistical theories are universally acknowledged by the hierarchy in professional sports.

In the beginning, when cadet Carl N. Morris first burst on the scene at Army and Navy Academy in September 1953, he evoked the image of a David battling Goliaths. When he graduated three years later, he became something of a Goliath himself. Today, at Harvard, Dr. Morris is an academic Godzilla.

Special thanks to Bruce Weber ’56 for writing this guest post.