Distinguished alumni recognized: John M. Morrison

Published 9:00 am Sunday, August 30, 2015

Recipients of this year’s awards will be recognized at the Education Foundation’s Pathways to Success celebration at 6 p.m. Sept. 10 at Wedgewood Cove Golf Club.

John M. Morrison

John M. Morrison

John M. Morrison was born and raised in Albert Lea, the oldest of  three sons of  M.T. and June Morrison. His brothers are Michael and Toby.

Morrison attended Abbott Elementary School. He was student council president in seventh and  ninth grade. Throughout high school Morrison was very active in drama. He was a masquer and thespian his sophomore, junior and senior years, acting in over five plays. He was appointed to the homecoming court, representing dramatics. Other groups Morrison participated in were junior classical league, visual aids club, AhLaHaSa, Tiger yearbook, Tigers’ Roar, band, football, prom committee chairman, student council and was a Rotary representative. He was senior class president.  He graduated from Albert Lea High School in 1955.

Email newsletter signup

Morrison graduated from the University of  Minnesota  in 1958, where he studied pre-law.  At the U he was president of the all-university congress, president of the young Republican club and he was head of  inter-fraternity council. He completed a Bachelor of Science degree in business law at LaSalle University in Chicago.

One of his early volunteer activities was to serve as one of the three top men in the campaign of Hubert Humphrey for vice president. Morrison served as Humphrey’s national campaign manager.

Currently, Morrison is chairman of the board  and the largest shareholder of MidwestOne Financial Group, a $3 billion banking organization out of Iowa City, Iowa. He is the founder and former chairman/CEO and sole owner of Central Bankshares Inc., the parent company of Central Bank, a Minneapolis-based banking organization that was merged with MidwestOne in early 2015. He is the owner and chairman of Central Bank Group Inc. and Central Financial Services, a bank consulting firm. Over the years he has purchased well over 100 banks throughout the United States.

Morrison has also purchased several both successful and troubled manufacturing companies in various industries across the United States. Among these were a fastener company with locations in California and Oregon, an optical and mine safety manufacturing company in Massachusetts, an  airplane manufacturing company in Texas, a computer cash register company in Minneapolis, a precision instrument company in Canada and several other companies. He has been the largest shareholder, chairman or lead director of six publicly held companies.

Morrison was the lead director and chairman of the Compensation Committee of Fingerhut Corporation, a publicly held credit card and catalog company with over 10,000 employees.

During the mid-1990s Morrison was selected to serve as a member of the board of governors of the University of Minnesota Academic Health Center and chairman of finance at the University of Minnesota Health System,  where he was in charge of a successful merger of the University of Minnesota Hospital into the Fairview Health Services system, which owned 10 hospitals and 40 clinics in Minnesota and employed over 20,000 employees.

In 2001, the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office appointed Morrison as Chairman and CEO of Allina Health System to lead the effort in reorganizing Allina Health System.

Morrison received the prestigious University of Minnesota Regents Award in 2001. The Regents Award is only presented every few years to individuals who have contributed to the building and development of the University of Minnesota through exceptionally valuable and meritorious service.

In 2007 Morrison received the University of Minnesota’s Most Outstanding Achievement Award, which is the highest award given to alumni who have attained distinction in their profession, public service and who have demonstrated outstanding achievement and leadership on a community, state and national level.

Morrison is presently the chairman of the board of trustees of the University of St. Thomas and chairman of  its executive committee. He received an honorary Doctorate of  Law degree and gave the commencement address to the graduating class of 1999.

In October 2012, Morrisonserved as co-chair of a St. Thomas capital campaign, which raised over $515 million dollars during the five-year campaign. He was a founding member of the board of governors of the University of St. Thomas School of  Law and established the John M. Morrison Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of St. Thomas, along with Morrison Hall — a 112-apartment residence hall equipped to house 350 students at the university.

In 2000 Morrison established a scholarship program for graduating seniors of Albert Lea High School and also to underprivileged teens from the Minneapolis metro area, which allowed them to attend a college of their choice.

Over the years the Morrison Foundation has donated tens of millions of dollars for buildings and dormitories at the University of St. Thomas, the Minneapolis Heart Hospital, United Hospital, Cretin Durham Hall High School, the University of St. Catherine, Naples Community Hospital Foundation and the Basilica of St. Mary.

Morrison is a member of the World Presidents Organization and the Chief  Executives Organization, both of which are worldwide organizations of CEOs.

Morrison has been married to Susan Schmid Morrison since 1960. They have four children and 12 grandchildren.

Morrison said he’s likely never to completely retire, but he does love to travel for business and pleasure.  He also enjoys skiing, hunting, boating and flying.