Vic Morgan says he’s used to being a newcomer.
Although Morgan’s lived in Victoria since 2014 and spent most of that time as the head of the University of Houston-Victoria, he’s the newest city resident compared to his three opponents, all of whom are either Victoria natives or have lived in the city for decades.
“I’ll be a newcomer to the City Council. I’ll be a newcomer to the city operations,” he said. “But I’ve been that everywhere I’ve been.”
Morgan said his experience working at different universities will help him in his bid to be Victoria’s next mayor. Morgan, 76, was brought in to be interim president of the struggling UHV campus, but the board of regents ultimately asked him to stay on full time. Morgan retired from the job in August and said he and his wife, Mary Jane Morgan, plan to retire in the city because they both “fell in love” with Victoria after moving here from Alpine.
When he arrived in Victoria, Morgan brought with him a long career of working in universities. After growing up in Bangs, he graduated from Howard Payne University in Brownwood and went on to get a master’s degree at Vanderbilt University. He received his doctorate in mathematics at the University of Missouri-Columbia, where he met his wife, who is also a mathematician. Morgan worked as a math professor at Southern Methodist University before joining Sul Ross State University in 1975. There, he worked his way up from his starting job as a math professor before ultimately becoming president of the university in 1975. While there, Morgan oversaw $100 million in infrastructure development on the campus, including a new student center and new dorms, he said. He retired from the position of president in 2009.
Morgan got the job as interim president for UHV in 2014. During his time at the university, Morgan oversaw the school’s expansion and plans to make it a destination campus. Morgan also oversaw multiple projects at UHV, including the beginning of a new residence hall and working to build a pedestrian corridor and boulevard on Ben Wilson Street. Morgan retired in August, a decision he made in 2017 shortly after faculty and staff were surveyed.
Morgan says he’s not running for mayor to help UHV but tells voters that his experience running universities would aid him in city government. One of his main messages to voters has been about the similarities between the two institutions: both have police forces, infrastructure needs, questions about expansion and not enough money to go around.
Morgan said during his campaign, he’s focused on listening to residents’ concerns, but he doesn’t plan to come into office with a set list of priorities.
“I don’t pretend to have all the ideas,” Morgan said about his leadership style. “I don’t want to have all the ideas. I’m not that smart, but I am smart enough to get good people working together to solve problems and accomplish goals.
“It strikes me that a lot of people don’t know a great deal about how the city works, and so I guess like others, I would like to see greater transparency in what the city does and a greater effort to let the public know what the city is doing and how they’re trying to resolve some of their problems.”
Morgan had raised $10,101 in political contributions as of Dec. 31, according to his most recent financial report. Candidates aren’t required to submit another campaign finance report until Thursday. Morgan faces three opponents in the May 4 mayoral election: Brent Carter, Rawley McCoy and Steve Meacham. The four candidates are scheduled to debate each other at a candidates’ forum Monday.