The 2022-2023 academic year saw a familiar face return to the classroom full-time at the University of Arkansas at Monticello.
Morris Bramlett, professor of chemistry at UAM, stepped down from his position as dean of the School of Mathematical and Natural Sciences in July 2022 after serving in the role since 2007 so that he could return to his love of teaching.
Bramlett's career at UAM began in 1991, when he served as a one-year visiting professor. He returned to UAM during the 1993-1994 academic year and has been a fixture of the School of Mathematical and Natural Sciences ever since.
Upon completing the 2023 spring semester, Bramlett reflected on the experience.
"Without a doubt, it was the right decision to go back to the classroom full-time. I love being able to devote a lot of time to things that will help my students learn. I'm not sure they appreciated the long homework sets at first, but by the end, they were on board and asking for more," he said.
"They've grown a tremendous amount this year. I look forward to watching my students from this year move on to their professional careers. I'm sure they will be successful, and I'm thankful to have been directly involved with their growth to reach that point. I feel very energized. I love teaching organic chemistry. I teach it from the basics up, and UAM has a lot of really sharp students. They don't always realize, when they get to UAM, just how sharp they are. I get to help them see that. Our students have an outstanding acceptance rate into pharmacy, medical and other professional programs," he said.
Bramlett relates to his students and their experiences.
"I think I'm like a lot of UAM students. People talk a lot about first-generation college students. I was a first-generation high school student. Neither of my parents went to high school, but it was always understood that I would go to college. My mom was determined to see me go to college, and my dad was encouraging, too," Bramlett said.
Bramlett is dedicated to helping students outside his classroom, too. In 2007, when he became a dean, he began donating $25 from each paycheck to the UAM Foundation. In November 2020, his scholarship reached $15,000 and became endowed.
The Bramlett Endowed Scholarship benefits chemistry or pre-pharmacy students with at least a 3.4 grade point average.
"I knew if I donated a little every month, it would eventually make it. When I became dean, it was financially feasible for me to do it. With interest, and a few other people's donations, it reached endowed status in 13 years," he said.
"My background made me care about creating a scholarship to help make it a little easier for a student to go to college. It's good to give back to the university and help the students. One of the reasons that I donated was because I thought it would be easier to convince other people to give if I was already giving," Bramlett explained.
He continues to donate to his scholarship from each paycheck.
"The joy that teaching brings me, I don't know if you get that in any other profession. I've taught over 5,000 students in my career," Bramlett said. "I can't imagine doing anything else. When I think about my students' accomplishments, I go home happy."
Kelsey Englert is with the Office of Public Relations at the University of Arkansas at Monticello.