Rock Star

Rock Star

He has been the principle investigator for more than 50 studies, a consultant for more than 70 companies and a lecturer in his field all over the world.He directs a new TCU program, trains horses for disabled kids, raises his two sons and plays bass guitar at The Moon Bar, all while teaching freshman geology.

And that’s just a normal day of work for Ken Morgan.

Richard Hanson, geology department chairman, said Morgan’s energy makes him a great teacher.

“He’s taking on a lot, but he’s got a lot of expertise,” Hanson said. “He loves to teach.”

Morgan, TCU’s associate dean of the college of science and engineering, also serves as director of operations for TCU’s new Energy Institute.

The institute will incorporate the business and technology aspects of all kinds of energy when it opens in January, Morgan said. Students interested in working in the energy industry can earn a minor from the institute, which Morgan said will teach them to appreciate the other facets of the energy industry and help TCU students stand out to companies.

“We know they’ll hire finance majors. We know they’ll hire geologists. We know they’ll hire engineers,” Morgan said. “We’re trying to also tack onto that more skills and understanding of the broader industry.”

Because of TCU’s proximity to the Barnett Shale, Morgan said other schools have shown interest in traveling to Fort Worth to tap into the natural gas industry, including the University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M University and the University of Oklahoma.

“We have center stage,” Morgan said. “They have to come to our house. We may as well get the welcome wagon out and make this happen.”

Valerie DeSantis, director of advancement of science and engineering in the Energy Institute, said Morgan’s dedication to TCU and his positive personality enable him to be successful.

“Ken’s the type of person who can juggle a million things at once,” DeSantis said. “The busier he is, the more he gets accomplished.”

Morgan is not all business, though. He said it will be standing room only when his band takes the stage at The Moon Bar on Dec. 6.

He was first introduced to music by his father, who played bass fiddle at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tenn.

Morgan’s band, which he said has been renamed many times, covers anything from The Police to the Eagles, and invites people to come and sing with them when they play.

“This semester, I’m going to invite all the students in my class to come over and see how goofy I can be,” Morgan said.

Though he is known throughout the department for his sense of humor, Morgan does have a sensitive side. He started training horses about 10 years ago, he said, when he saw the joy his youngest son took from horseback riding. He decided to move to the country and bought two horses.

There was just one problem: Morgan had no idea how to train horses. An added difficulty is that his younger son has cerebral palsy, a disease that causes difficulty in muscle control.

So he got on the Web, he said, and found what is called “clicker training.” The method uses a clicker to help horses remember certain actions with the noise and a treat. Morgan said he and his older son spent a lot of time training the horses, but seeing his younger son ride was well worth it.

“When he’s on that horse, even though it’s a struggle, I don’t care who you are, it brings tears to your eyes because you will never witness that in your life,” Morgan said.

Morgan serves on the board of directors for the All Star Equestrian Foundation in Mansfield, a volunteer organization that he said provides about 100 children with the opportunity to ride horses for therapy. Every January, the foundation hosts an event for centers all around Texas at John Justin Arena. In 2009, Morgan said, Fort Worth will be the host city for all institutions like All Star around the nation.

“When you see a youngster be able to raise his hands up on a horse or take the reigns for the first time in their lives and take a 1,200-pound horse around an arena, it’s pretty spectacular,” Morgan said.