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WVU's Morris named first Ming Hsieh Distinguished Professor

on Wed, 02/25/2009 - 08:00

An educator who has helped keep West Virginia University on the cutting edge and a national leader in the field of forensic and investigative science was honored Thursday (Feb. 19) with a professorship.
Keith Morris is WVU’s first Ming Hsieh Distinguished Professor of Forensic and Investigative Science.

Morris is director of WVU’s Forensic and Investigative Science Program, one of only 13 accredited undergraduate programs in the U.S.

“We congratulate Keith Morris on the receipt of the first Ming Hsieh Distinguished Professorship in Forensic and Investigative Science,” said Rudolph P. Almasy, interim dean of the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences. “His dedication to the growth and development of the FIS Program has placed WVU at the forefront of this important field, and it is fitting that he be the first recipient of this prestigious professorship.”

California businessman and philanthropist Ming Hsieh, along with interim WVU President C. Peter Magrath, joined Eberly College of Arts and Sciences officials for Thursday’s ceremony. Video available at: http://wvutoday.wvu.edu/news/page/7531/

“Dr. Morris is exactly the kind of teacher and researcher that WVU must attract to excel as a 21st-century, land-grant University, which provides a high quality education for students and advances knowledge to benefit West Virginians,” Magrath said. “And we are attracting scholars of this caliber, in large part due to the generosity of donors. We are grateful to Mr. Hsieh for his generosity and to Dr. Morris for joining the WVU community and providing his students with a world-class education.”
 

In 2007, the Hsieh Family Foundation provided an endowment to establish two distinguished professorships to focus on teaching and research in the Forensic and Investigative Science Program. They are the Ming Hsieh Distinguished Teaching Professorship and the Ming Hsieh Distinguished Professorship, which focuses on research.

The Forensic and Investigative Science Program in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences is nationally accredited through the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission.

Morris was instrumental in establishing a master’s program in forensic and investigative science and teaches extensively in that program. He has developed courses relating to the application of automated fingerprint identification systems (AFIS) and other forensic databases. He is a member of the General Forensics Technical Working Group of the National Institute of Justice, the AFIS Expert Group and the Human Factors in Latent Print Analysis group of National Institute of Standards and Technology/National Institute of Justice.

Morris holds a doctoral degree from the University of Port Elizabeth in South Africa and a master’s degree in business leadership from the University of South Africa. He was attached to the Forensic Science Laboratory of the South African Police Service for about 14 years.
For six of these years, he was the director of the Forensic Science Laboratory System. During this time, he was decorated with the Police Star for Outstanding Service. He performed casework in the area of trace evidence, precious metal theft and bombing investigations. He was also responsible for the training of detectives and crime scene examiners on the preservation and collection and analysis of forensic evidence.

Morris’ current research focuses on error rates in latent fingerprint identification, analytical methodologies in latent fingerprint identification, blood droplet trajectories and blood-stain analysis and the hyper-spectral imaging of fingerprints, as well as public service activities in forensic science.

Hsieh is chief executive officer and chairman of Cogent Inc., a leading provider of automated fingerprint identification systems and other fingerprint biometric solutions to governments, law enforcement agencies and other organizations.

He graduated from the University of Southern California with bachelor’s (1983) and master’s (1984) degrees in electrical engineering, and he currently serves on the USC board of trustees.

Hsieh’s generous charitable giving to education reflects his interest in training, mentoring and nurturing the next generation of leaders. The professorships will enable WVU’s faculty to fulfill this promise to the young men and women who look to WVU for the knowledge and skills they need to succeed as forensic scientists.

Hsieh’s financial gifts have also helped in the construction of Ming Hsieh Hall, which opened for WVU students during fall 2007. The building contains two large lecture halls and two general purpose classrooms, and it is estimated that 800 students are accommodated each typical class hour throughout the day. Hsieh has also made possible a gift of technology from Cogent Inc. to develop an AFIS teaching and research facility in Oglebay Hall.

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