Farewell Dr. Morgan

July 20, 2010

Farewell Dr. Morgan

VALDOSTA -- When a young, eager Dr. Victor Morgan arrived at Valdosta State College in 1981, the director of counseling was an office of one. The passionate therapist provided counseling services, outreach programs, testing services, crisis management, and even career counseling for the entire university of 4,500 students.

Today, as Morgan hangs his hat after 29 years of service, he recalls the journey to build a holistic counseling center that provides comprehensive mental health counseling to the university community. The center has grown to six professional counselors, a consulting psychiatrist, two secretaries and a student intern. In 2000, the center became one of only four in the State of Georgia to receive full accreditation by the International Association of Counseling Services (IACS).

“Today, more so than ever before, the university counseling center plays an important role in helping the college student succeed in school,” said Morgan, who is chair of the university’s Crisis Response Team. “Many students are able to attend college today because of the free counseling services provided by counseling centers and accessibility to medication when appropriate. Without these services, many students would be ill prepared to cope with many of the personal, social and educational stressors in life.”

Morgan was instrumental in the 1996 grant to establish the Office of Alcohol and Other Drug Education, which provides substance abuse prevention, education and referral resources to faculty, staff and students. Morgan also implemented Titanium Schedule Software to computerize all counseling records, notes, appointments and research data to evaluate client satisfaction and retention. But more than his list of accolades and accomplishments, Morgan is focused on the relationships he has built during his tenure.

“My favorite memories will always be about the many friendships that I have enjoyed and those individuals who I have had the pleasure of working with for nearly 30 years,” said Morgan, who has also taught in the Department of Psychology and Counseling. “The most rewarding aspect of my job is to be given the opportunity to come to work every day and be in a position to make a meaningful difference in the life of another human being. My greatest satisfaction comes from students who have come back to see me reporting successes in their life and appreciation for the help they received while in school.”

Surrounded by support

Morgan credits many of his professional successes to the center’s dedicated and compassionate staff as well as administrators -- particularly former VSU President Hugh C. Bailey -- for believing in his vision. The native of South Carolina had always planned to be a surgeon, but a few psychology classes in college changed his perspective. He enjoys the challenges and rewards that come from helping people better their lives.

“My counseling philosophy is based on a cognitive-behavioral approach. Our level of emotional distress and the behavioral patterns that follow are influenced more often by our thoughts about the situation than the situation itself. This is why two or more people can react differently to the same events or happening,” Morgan said. “My goal in counseling is to help an individual recognize his/her faulty thought processes and replace those thoughts with more rational and positive beliefs. It’s not the situation but rather what we make out of the situation (self-talk) that influences our emotions and behaviors.”

On Friday, July 30, Morgan will walk out of the counseling center as its director for the last time. The Division of Student Affairs will hold a retirement reception for Morgan from 2-4 p.m. on Thursday, July 29, in the Powell Hall West atrium. Members of the VSU community are invited to attend and wish the director well as he trades in work meetings for visits with grandchildren and counseling sessions for afternoon tee times. Morgan said he is eager to spend more time with family, travel, golf and squeeze in a few hours of fishing.

To his replacement, Morgan gives three pieces of advice: Take your work very seriously; you are not an island -- make every effort to collaborate with faculty, staff and administrators to serve students; and have fun (because, “No one can do this type of work for 30 years without a sense of humor”).

“I would like to be remembered as young compassionate professional who came to a small college in South Georgia and surrounded himself with some of the finest people anywhere to provide a counseling center for students that one day would be recognized as one of the best,” Morgan said.