Four Arizona leaders to earn honorary degrees during spring commencement ceremonies

Richard Morrison, Elaine Morrison, Donald Brandt, John David Bowman
Honorary degree recipients are, clockwise from top: Richard Morrison, Elaine Morrison, Donald Brandt, John David Bowman.

Four leaders who are committed to education and serving the Arizona community will be awarded honorary degrees during Northern Arizona University’s spring commencement ceremonies.

Richard and Elaine Morrison, will be recognized with honorary degrees for their commitment to leadership and their community during the 1 p.m. ceremony Friday, May 8.

Richard Morrison is a native Arizonan, lawyer, philanthropist and leader in the nation’s agricultural industry. He holds bachelor’s degree from Northern Arizona University, a master’s of arts from San Francisco Theological Seminary and a doctorate of jurisprudence from the University of Houston. He serves on the Executive Committee of the Agribusiness and Water Council of Arizona and as a trustee of the Farm Foundation, an educational nonprofit corporation headquartered in Chicago. Morrison also is an advisor to the Arizona Water Resources Research Center at the University of Arizona, and has been honored for his participation in the successful negotiation and implementation of four water rights settlements with Native American communities in Arizona.

Elaine Morrison, an educator, philanthropist and community leader, is widely recognized for her imagination, ability to articulate a vision and enthusiasm for challenging projects. She earned a bachelor’s of philosophy from Northern Arizona University and completed post-graduate work in education at Rice University. Morrison taught government and economics to high school seniors where she developed a keen insight into the governance policies well suited to public schools. This led to elected service as a member of the Governing Board of Gilbert Public Schools for 14 years and as a member of the Flagstaff Unified School District’s Governing Board for two years. She also was instrumental in establishing the Richard A. Wood Professorship for the Teaching of Philosophy at Northern Arizona University.

Donald Brandt, president and chief executive officer for Pinnacle West Capital Corporation and APS, will earn an honorary degree during the 1 p.m. ceremony Saturday, May 9.

A certified public accountant, Brandt holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from St. Louis University. Prior to joining Pinnacle West in 2002, he served in the power industry for 20 years. Brandt was elected in 2009 to Pinnacle West’s board of directors and promoted to chairman, president and CEO of Pinnacle West and APS. He also currently serves on the boards of the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations, the Nuclear Energy Institute, the Edison Electric Institute and Nuclear Electric Insurance Limited. In addition, he sits on the boards of the McCain Institute, the Phoenix Art Museum and the Nature Conservancy in Arizona.

John-David Bowman, the 2015 Arizona Teacher of the Year, will earn an honorary doctoral degree during the 5 p.m. ceremony Saturday, May 9.

Bowman teaches history at Westwood High School in Mesa, Ariz. As Arizona Teacher of the Year, Bowman spends much of his time advocating for students and fellow educators. His yearlong position includes addressing legislative committees, business groups and educational organizations, commitments that temporarily take him out of the classroom, while providing a larger platform to share his concerns about the importance of funding for education. Bowman earned his master’s degree in secondary education from Northern Arizona University. NAU traditionally awards an honorary degree to the Arizona Teacher of the Year.