The Torchlighter Award honors those who have made a significant, long-standing contribution and a commitment to Park. Recipients who are not Park alumni receive honorary alumni status as part of this award.

   Louise Morden
      Torchlighter Award, 2013

The name Louise Morden has special meaning at Park University. It has become synonymous with dedication, commitment and contribution — words that define the Torchlighter Award.

For anyone who has attended events and meetings at Park, the name “Louise Morden” may ring familiar. “I always enjoy meeting Park students and alumni. It’s especially fun to see the surprise on their faces when they connect my name with the Louise Morden Board Room on the Parkville Campus,” Morden said.

Morden was fascinated with the development of the Parkville Commercial Underground in the 1990s and enthusiastically shared stories of its progress with her late husband, Paul. For her birthday, Paul decided to give her a special surprise by underwriting the costs to build the board room and name it after Louise. “It was a most marvelous birthday gift,” Morden said.

With 20 years of wear and tear, the Louise Morden Board Room was in need of a facelift. When Park President Michael Droge shared his concerns with Morden, he was delighted with her immediate response: “Well then, I think I should take care of my board room.” And take care of it she did. Extensive renovations were completed in March 2012 thanks to a generous $100,000 gift from its namesake to provide for expanded seating capacity from 28 to 52 and state-of-the art sound and interactive projection technologies.

Park is grateful to Morden for making this renovation possible and for the continued commitment to the University, a relationship that began in the 1970s. It was then that Morden and her husband were members of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (now known as the Community of Christ) during the brief time it managed Park.

From her first experiences meeting faculty and students, Morden said she got swept up in Park’s school spirit. Traveling from her home in Niagara Falls, N.Y., she enjoyed attending Park events and became actively involved in the University’s future.

Morden has been a valued and highly respected member of the Park University Board of Trustees from 1979 until 1989, and again from 1992 until 2002. In May 2002, Morden was named as an honorary trustee. Over the years, she has served the board in various capacities, including chair of the Institutional Advancement Committee, and a member of the Executive, Endowment and Investments, Development and Public Affairs, and the Business Management Committees.

Early in her career, Morden taught junior high school while working summers with her husband to manage their Niagara Falls souvenir stores. After visiting Madame Tussauds in London, her husband decided to build the Niagara Falls Wax Museum of History. Although she loved teaching, Morden decided to work with her husband full time.

Working in tourism has broadened her perspective on the world. “I’ve traveled the world in my business meeting people in Hong Kong, Singapore and throughout Europe. I’m fortunate to have had the opportunity to build lifelong friends around the globe.”

That’s why Morden especially admires Park’s focus on international education. “As we all know, the world is getting smaller. Nothing is more important than to learn more about each other to overcome misconceptions. When you have the opportunity to interact with people from other countries and cultures, you gain an entirely different perspective. It’s so important. All that Park is doing to create connections for students around the globe is making a big difference for our future.”

Learning that the Torchlighter Award makes her an honorary Park alumna, Morden said, “It’s a great honor. When I visit Park, I feel like I’m going home. I felt the Park spirit more than 20 years ago, and I still feel it today.”