Deborah Morrison Joins One Club Educators Hall of Fame

Deb Morrison gestures at a lectern and speaks into a microphone at the SOJC Hall of Achievement gala
SOJC Distinguished Professor of Advertising Deborah Morrison speaks during the SOJC Hall of Achievement ceremony in 2022. Photo by Jack Liu.

Deborah Morrison, Distinguished Professor of Advertising at the UO School of Journalism and Communication (SOJC), will become the first public university professor inducted into The One Club for Creativity Educators Hall of Fame, on Sept. 5. in New York City. The One Club is the world's foremost nonprofit organization devoted to creative excellence in advertising and design.

Morrison is the SOJC’s associate dean for undergraduate affairs. Over several decades, she has forged a career marked by education innovation, industry leadership and advocacy for addressing pressing societal issues.

Morrison began her career at the University of Texas, where she established Texas Creative, a pioneering undergraduate creative development program. She spent 15 years recruiting talent, hiring faculty and reviewing student portfolios. Her work helped earn Texas Creative a spot on lists of best portfolio schools alongside prestigious institutions like The Creative Circus and Brandcenter.

Innovative approach led to hall of fame honor

In 2006, Morrison joined the University of Oregon as the SOJC’s director of advertising and held the Carolyn Silva Chambers Distinguished Professor endowed chair. During her 15 years in those positions, she and faculty colleagues built a successful creative program at the school. Integral to accomplishing this was her invention of the “creative strategist” approach to teaching advertising that emphasizes the importance of critical thinking and problem-solving.

Another of Morrison’s SOJC projects is Science & Memory. Since 2014, Morrison has led a small cohort of students yearly to Cordova, Alaska. There, they explore creative storytelling through the lens of climate change. The program was recognized by Fast Company as a “world-changing idea” and has earned several awards, including a College Television Award, also known as a College Emmy.

Morrison’s teaching has been recognized worldwide. She was selected to speak at TEDx, the United Nations Panel on Climate Action and SXSW. Her major awards include the 2018 American Academy of Advertising Charles Sandage National Teaching Award and the 2015 Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) Distinguished Advertising Teacher of the Year. She was named the Art Director’s Club of New York Grandmaster in 2010.

Morrison’s students go on to illustrious careers

Throughout her career, Morrison has helped thousands of creatives kick-start their careers by encouraging them to create “work of substance.” Her students have gone on to write commercial scripts for Nike, start award-winning agencies, and even play in the National Football League (NFL) and set records in the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA).

Deb Morrison holds a bullhorn and gestures with her arm up on a trip to New York City
SOJC Distinguished Professor of Advertising Deborah Morrison addresses students during an Advertising trip to New York City in 2018.

“I think about the lives of people as they’re in this career, and I don’t want them to be shallow. I want them to have work of substance,” Morrison said. “If you want to have a life that is fulfilling, you want to be able to say, ‘I did work of meaning.’”

Morrison was co-nominated for the One Club honor by Glenn Cole ’92, the SOJC’s inaugural Eric Allen Outstanding Young Alumni Award winner, and John Boiler '87, a graduate of UO's College of Design. The two UO alumni are co-founders of the global creative advertising agency 72andSunny.  

“Deb changed creative education disruptively and at scale,” Cole stated in his nomination letter. “If we want to expand and elevate the creative class, we need more punk rock Ph.D.s in our public schools.”

Morrison is not the only University of Oregon alum recognized by The One Club. Steve Sandstrom, a member of the Dean’s Council for UO's College of Design, will be inducted into the Creative Hall of Fame this year. Sandstrom is the founder and executive creative director at Sandstrom Partners. He is an accomplished designer who has helped brands like Nike, Converse and Miller High Life revitalize and refine their brand image.

“This recognition from The One Club is special and deeply felt,” Sandstrom said. “I know the debates, the deep considerations and the difficulty of these decisions.”

From 2005 to 2009, Sandstrom and Morrison served together on The One Club's board of directors. “For her entire career, Deb has inspired students to go forth and achieve greatness,” Sandstrom said. “[She] is an excellent member of the esteemed group of educators whose students have become some of the brightest stars in the creative world.”

Likewise, Morrison believes Sandstrom holds a place as a national design icon. “That we both represent Oregon and the beautiful work done here is a moment of pride,” she said.

Morrison’s new book, “Brave Work in the Age of Climate Change,” is scheduled for publication in 2025.

—By Jackson Knox

Jackson Knox is an advertising major with a minor in creative writing. He is a copywriter for Allen Hall Advertising. You can view his portfolio or connect with him on LinkedIn.