1908–December 23, 2011
Kenneth William Morgan passed away at the age of 103 in Winchester, New Hampshire, on December 23, 2011. He had earned degrees from Ohio Wesleyan University (BA) and Harvard University (STB), and held an honorary degree (LHD) from Simpson College. Morgan had lived in Hindu monasteries in India for a year, became director of the National Council on Religion in Higher Education, director of religious activities at the University of Michigan, and during the war years served as director of education for the American Friends Service Committee.
In 1946 Morgan came to Colgate University in Hamilton, New York, where he served as university chaplain, professor of religion, director of Chapel House, and director of the Fund for the Study of the Great Religions of the World. He also served a three-year term as director of the Division of Humanities. He was deeply respected by students and colleagues for his extraordinary intellect, energy, insight, and compassion.
Morgan’s area of concentration was the contemporary religions of Asia. He traveled extensively in Asia to gather materials for his research. He edited three works, considered far ahead of their time, on Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam. He also authored an interpretive study, Reaching for the Moon on Asian Religious Paths (Columbia University Press, 1990). Morgan retired from Colgate University in 1974.
Morgan was instrumental in the founding of the American Academy of Religion and was a long-standing member of the AAR (1964–2008) and while serving on the Edward W. Hazen Foundation helped to launch programs to encourage the teaching of Asian religions in the United States. He also played an important role in the launching of the Center for the Study of World Religions at Harvard University. Morgan served on committees of the Society for Religion in Higher Education, the American Council of Learned Societies, Education in World Affairs, the American Society for the Study of Religion, the Association for Asian Studies, and the Center for International Programs of the New York State Education Department, among others. He was a member of the board of directors of the Tibet Foundation and of the Tibet Society. He was chairman of the program committee for the Eleventh International Congress of the International Association for the History of Religions in 1965. Morgan also served as consultant at various times for foundations and colleges interested in the teachings of the religions of the world.