Campus Life

People of UCA: Duston Morris

UCA’s Assistant Professor of Health Sciences Duston Morris found passion for tness early on, and now teaches and studies how it affects all facets of life.

Morris said he has always enjoyed physical activity and played several sports throughout high school. “[I] realized that it really added to the quality of my life,” he said.

While working on his undergraduate degree in psychology, Morris started volunteering at Special Olympics activities. Seeing people enjoy physical activities spurred his interest.

Morris said he chose to come to UCA because it provides a good balance between research and teaching.

“Some institutions really focus quite a bit on the teaching, and so your faculty members, they’re in the eld and they’re teaching the eld but they’re not investigating new ways to change things,” he said.

This is in contrast to other schools that focus on the research aspect, but not as much on teaching.

“What I was really looking for was an institution where I felt there could be a good balance,” Morris said. “So I could go out and investigate in my eld and add to the body of knowledge and be able to use that in the classroom.”

Morris also likes that, while UCA is a large school, it isn’t as largeasotherinstitutions,so it maintains a small campus feel. “You get into the bigger campuses, you can walk across campus and not see a soul that you know,” he said. “Very seldom do I walk across this campus and not see a face that I don’t know. And I think there’s something to be said about that for UCA.”

Morris recalled what he said was one of his most memorable interactions with a student.

The student was a single father going through dif cult times, spurred by the fact that he had lost his job. The student was part of an entry-level health class.

“In our entry-level classes we talk about different dimensions of wellness. Many times we talk about six different dimensions: social, emotional, physical,occupational,mental, spiritual,” Morris said.

Morris said emotional intelligence is the understanding that even though people are emotional creatures, we can’t let our emotions control us. The student came to Morris and told him about his hardships.

He told Morris that he was so angry that he was thinking about harming the boss who red him.

“And I said ‘Let’s talk about that for a minute, you know, what kind of example would you be setting for your son if you were to take this action?’” Morris said.

He asked the student if those actions could keep his son from being in his life.

Morris was able to talk him through it and the student ended up graduating.

“Watching him graduate and him coming up at the end of his graduation and saying ‘Thank you’ is the best experience I’ve ever had,” Morris said.

Photo by Lauren Swaim

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