Morris Hite: Early Champion of UT Dallas


Dallas adman Morris Hite.
Morris Hite’s skill and unrivaled work ethic helped propel him to become president of Dallas-based ad agency TracyLocke.
He also used that determination to champion higher education in the Dallas area, in particular the challenging effort to add the Southwest Center for Advanced Studies — UTD’s precursor institution — to the UT System in the late ’60s.
The late Richard Brown, who worked for Hite at TracyLocke for more than 20 years, spoke to UT Dallas Magazine in 2015 and recalled the struggle Hite and UTD proponents faced in Austin and from colleges in the region to see the University become a reality.

“Hite was president of the Dallas Chamber of Commerce at the time, and he ran it well. He was in a position to help. He knew SCAS co-founder Erik Jonsson through business dealings, and that brought him into the fold. There was a need for higher education in Dallas, and Hite was determined to do something about it. He jumped into the middle of it.
“The founders offered to turn over SCAS, with its campus, buildings, equipment and faculty — worth millions of dollars — if the state agreed to establish a graduate-level institution in North Texas.
“Hite worked behind the scenes to advance the effort. He spent a good part of the spring in lobbying Gov. Preston Smith and the Texas Legislature in Austin. In June of 1969, House Bill [303] was signed into law, transforming the SCAS into UTD.
“He, Jonsson, SCAS President Gifford Johnson and others were responsible for convincing the state and The University of Texas System to adopt what had been a private research center and transform it into a public university.”

Hite oversaw the placement of this ad promoting the Southwest Center for Advanced Studies in the June 7, 1968, issue of TIME magazine.

Hite is described as having been a down-to-earth straight shooter, the antithesis of the stereotypical glib New York City ad executive of the era.
Hite, who was inducted into the American Advertising Federation’s Hall of Fame in 1996­, went from operating a small firm in his native Oklahoma to working his way up the TracyLocke ranks. Borden Dairy, Haggar Clothing (he helped coin the term “slacks”), Mrs. Baird’s, Pearl Beer and Imperial Sugar were just a few of the clients he built into well-known brands.
Hite continued to contribute to UT Dallas by serving as chairman of its development board. At the time of his death in a car accident in 1983, Hite was preparing to teach in the School of Management.
The University established the Morris Hite Center for Product Development and Marketing Research in 1984 to support graduate students and faculty in creating marketing strategies for new and existing products.
–Paul Bottoni
Morris Hite at his desk

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