Dean Emeritus Honored as 2024 Librarian of the Year by the Texas Librarian Association

June 12, 2024

Photo credits to El Progreso Memorial Library. 

Morgan with awardEach person that is a part of UIW’s ongoing story, both past and present, has impacted the University in various ways. Some have enlightened young minds, provided spiritual guidance and have helped the campus welcome all who seek to be a part of the Mission. Mendell D. Morgan Jr.’s influence was most felt where many students go in search of a quiet place to study and expand their knowledge – the J.E. and L.E. Mabee Library.

When Morgan moved from Dallas to San Antonio in search of work in 1975, he was immediately drawn to UIW, as the familiar school he’d passed by many times as a native Texan during his trips to San Antonio. However, it was ultimately the compelling core value of the University’s Mission that truly resonated with him and encouraged him to apply to work at the University.

Morgan first joined the Incarnate Word family when the institution was known as Incarnate Word College and served 33 years as a tenured assistant professor and librarian, long enough to see the institution evolve into the University of the Incarnate Word in 1996. He retired in 2008.

He has always loved being around students as he admires their infectious enthusiasm for the future and how they intentionally choose to contribute towards it. In the classroom and in the library, he felt that positive energy every day as he helped generations of students achieve their educational goals.

During his tenure, Morgan helped to raise 8.7 million dollars, alongside former University leadership, that was put towards expanding and renovating the library, doubling it in size.

“The library changed in ways that make it unrecognizable now, and resulted in a modern functional library that the students continue to enjoy,” shared Morgan. “It was important because people came to sort of live in the library, per say. It was a refuge, haven, home, place of learning, to set new goals and to find resources to help support one’s education.”

Morgan holding award with friendsAdditionally, since the 1980s, Morgan and his late wife have consistently made personal financial contributions to UIW. Their commitment began with an annual associate's level donation to the University, a tradition he continues proudly to this day along with his support for the Sisters.

Aside from the notable teaching and learning environment at UIW, Morgan also admired the presence and impact the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word (CCVI) had on campus. “The spirit of the University was tangible because, at the time, 58 sisters were present on campus filling various roles such as registrars, catalogers and administrators. Every day you could see them going about their daily work and activities, greeting people with 'Praise be the Incarnate Word' and being visible throughout campus. There tangible spirit was really a special thing,” recounts Morgan.

Although he retired from the University in 2008, Morgan has kept in touch with several sisters including Sr. Walter Maher, CCVI, vice president for Mission and Ministry.

“Mendell has always gone the extra mile for the common good,” shared Sr. Walter. “I am grateful for the gift of his presence in my life!”

Morgan also got to see his own son, David, enjoy the unique qualities of the University, as he graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in 1986.

After enjoying six years of retirement, Morgan returned to the library profession in 2014 as the director of El Progreso Memorial Library in Uvalde, Texas. As someone who grew up in Uvalde, he was glad for the opportunity to offer his services to a community that had immense value to him.

“In my heart, this is my hometown,” shared Morgan. “During my formative years, the people here were very kind, encouraging, supportive and nurturing to me, and I sensed and appreciated it. I thought someday I would like to be able to give back to the community.”

Today, Morgan serves as the director of development at El Progreso to raise funds, where he advocates for literacy, diversity and community through the offering of innovative programs, support services and educationally expansive opportunities.

Morgan with friends“Through his leadership, the library has become a beacon of light for those facing adversity, offering solace, encouragement, healing and opportunities for personal development,” El Progreso Memorial Library shared in an online statement.

Morgan shared that he was incredibly moved to witness CCVI sisters supporting the Uvalde community, demonstrating to him their immense level of care, and validating why he still feels proud to be a part of the Incarnate Word family.

On Wednesday, April 17, Morgan was named the 2024 Librarian of the Year by the Texas Librarian Association at its annual conference, a title given to a librarian who has demonstrated extraordinary leadership and services within the library community.

Morgan had the honor of accepting this award with his loved ones present. After 60 years in the library profession, Morgan shared that he felt extremely humbled and grateful for the recognition, and for all the experiences and support of colleagues he’s had over the years. As he continues to champion literacy and community development, he stands as a testament to the enduring spirit of service and lifelong learning fostered by his time at the University of the Incarnate Word.