IHCC Memories: Bob Morrissey

Submitted by: Bob Morrissey, Ottumwa, Iowa

Please Identify the time period you were at Indian Hills.

While working as an elementary counselor at Eddyville Schools, I served as the coordinator of the Indian Hills Adult Education classes in that community, and also was the ABE-GED instructor. From that role, I was asked to move to full-time employment in the Adult Education Division at Indian Hills in April of 1973. I served in many capacities from that time through December of 1998. Then in June of 2005, I returned to Indian Hills and served until December of 2011.

In what department (s) did you work and what jobs did you have?

In 1973 I was the Senior Planner for the Area XV Agency on Aging – responsible for writing federal grants to fund the Senior Congregate Meal Sites, Transportation System, and an Information & Referral component. I completed these duties in mid-1974 and was assigned as coordinator of the Area XV Research & Planning in Vocational Education study.

After completion of that study, I was asked to initiate the Development Office at Indian Hills, which began in January 1975; that assignment also included being Executive Director of the Indian Hills Foundation.

I remained in Development and the Foundation through 1987, when I picked up some additional duties to include oversight of Student Services, Dormitories, etc , becoming Executive Dean of Development and Institutional Services – and also was named Executive Director of the Indian Hills Development Corporation. A non-official position I held during the majority of this period was “Coordinator of Liquor.” I served in these positions until my resignation (from total exhaustion) in December of 1998.

In 2005, I returned to Indian Hills as Assistant to the President for Community Relations and Governmental Affairs, retiring in December of 2011.

What were the names of your supervisors, and some of my co-workers?

Supervisors included: Ed Green – 1973 through mid-1974; Darrell Ensz – 1974; Lyle Hellyer – 1975 through 1998; Jim Lindenmayer – 2005 through 2011.

Describe some unique or funny stories that occurred during your time at Indian Hills?

There were many, one that comes to mind is Dr. Hellyer and I returning from a trip to D.C. – it was snowing and we were the last plane out of what is now Reagan National; when the plane arrived in Chicago O’Hare it couldn’t land because of the storm and we circled for about 2-hours. During that time they opened up the bar and provided everyone with free drinks – and Lyle and I loved that. Then the stewardess came by and told Lyle they were out of scotch – and for whatever reason I said “hey, I bet I can find some scotch back there” – and she told me to go ahead and look. So I went back and sure enough way in the back of the drawer was 1 more scotch. Lyle was so pleased he told me I had a 5-year contract at Indian Hills. So we could not land at O’Hare, and because we were low on fuel they flew to Detroit, landed and refueled – then took off for St. Louis, but couldn’t land there – so they flew to Kansas City where we landed – and caught a plane to Des Moines. Now we were going to be close to home (but we had flown out of Ottumwa, so we had no car in Des Moines). When we got off the plane in Des Moines, I thought I recognized Johnny Muhl (the Pepsi-Cola guru from Oskaloosa) as one of the passengers – so at Lyle’s urging I walked up beside him and introduced myself – and sure enough it was Johnny. Long story short – we caught a ride to Oskaloosa in Johnny’s Mark IV (that was already warmed up and waiting when we retrieved our luggage) – and when we got to Osky, Johnny got out at his house and told us to take his car down to Ottumwa and bring it back whenever. On the way from Oskaloosa to Ottumwa in that big fancy car – Lyle increased my contract to 10-years.

What are some good memories that you have of working at Indian Hills?

A great memory was the first time we made 100% of Indian Hills full-time employees contributing to the Foundation. I think it was 1987 (or there-abouts) – and we were down to just one person to reach 100%. So I called and made an appointment to visit the guy. When I walked into his office he said “you’re here to ask me about a gift to the Foundation aren’t you?” And when I said yes – he said “I only give to anything when someone comes up to me and asks me personally”. So I asked him for a gift – and he reached in his billfold and gave me a $20 bill. AND WE WERE 100% FOR THE FIRST TIME!

A second good memory was our ability to work together to build multiple new buildings/facilities over the years – as many as 11 with external assistance – with the greater number located on the Main Campus. You may recall that when we moved to Ottumwa Heights in 1980 – there was only 1 building – the main complex – that existed then. What is now a sprawling campus was then an orchard, a barn, and some farm ground.

What are your hopes for the future of Indian Hills?

Indian Hills has not become what it is today by accident. It is the result of the talents, dedication, and blood, sweat, and tears of many. My hope is that this same spirit remains an integral ingredient of this great college in the years to come.

Please share any other comments that you think others will enjoy.

Who would have dreamed that such a “crown jewel” as Indian Hills Community College could have emerged within the long-term economically deprived region that is southeast Iowa?