A professor of physics at UC Berkeley for 22 years, he retired
from the faculty in 1994 but continued to serve as an assistant
dean in the undergraduate advising office of the College of
Letters & Science, a position he held for 11 years. In that
position, he helped adjudicate student requests for exceptions
to various rules and regulations.
"Harry was a strong supporter for encouraging minority and
women students to pursue math-based majors as undergraduates
at UC Berkeley," said Leroy T. Kerth, vice chairman of the
Department of Physics. "He contributed greatly to the department
through his scientific achievements, through his leadership
and through his personal warmth."
As the only African American member of the physics faculty,
he was a natural magnet for minority students in the department,
and he consulted behind the scenes with many of them.
Morrison also was involved in the early planning stages of
a program launched in 1970 as Mathematics, Engineering, Science
Achievement (MESA). Conceived as a way to boost minority enrollment
in college, it has since become a nationally recognized and
very successful statewide academic preparation program reaching
out to more than 21,000 students throughout California.
"When I think of Harry, I think of him as devoted to his
family, devoted to mentoring of minority students, and devoted
to the life of an intellectual," said P. Buford Price, professor
of physics and dean of the physical sciences in the College
of Letters & Science. "He always greeted me with a grin and
A quiet and scholarly man, he specialized in an area of theoretical
physics called statistical mechanics. For many years the only
faculty member in that field, he attempted to understand the
behavior of fluids when the temperature drops low enough for
them to become so-called superfluids. In this state they exhibit
peculiar quantum properties, ranging from flow without resistance
to the generation of quantized vortices by spinning the container.
One of his frequent collaborators in the 1960s and 70s was
physicist John Garrison, now retired from Lawrence Livermore
National Laboratory and a visiting scholar at UC Berkeley.
Together they wrote numerous papers on the movement of particles
in superfluid systems, primarily the symmetry aspects of two-dimensional
"Harry was unusual. He had the intellect of a scholar, an
encyclopedic knowledge of the scientific literature, which
was one of the great advantages of collaborating with him,"
Garrison said. "People would use him as a resource because
he understood everything, he understood what was important."
A consummate intellectual, he read extensively about the
history of physics and kept abreast of modern mathematics.
"He was always carrying around a math book," said colleague
Robert Littlejohn, UC Berkeley professor of physics. "When
he was still active as a professor, he'd sit in on math courses
almost every semester."
He also was a longtime member of the library committee of
the physics department.
Born in Arlington, Va., in 1932, Morrison attended Catholic
University of America in Washington, D.C., from which he received
a BA in 1955 and a PhD in 1960. Following a one-year National
Research Council postdoctoral fellowship at the National Bureau
of Standards, he was called to active military service as
a 1st Lieutenant at the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1961. He
served as an assistant professor of physics there until 1964,
when he joined the staff of the Lawrence Livermore National
Laboratory as a theoretical physicist.
In 1972, he was recruited to the physics department at UC
Morrison was a Fellow of the American Physical Society, and
for many years was on the Committee on Minorities of that
organization. He chaired the committee in 1977, and also served
on the society's executive council from 1971 until 1975.
He also was a founder and fellow of the 25-year-old National
Society of Black Physicists (NSBP), and was a visiting professor
at Hampton and Howard Universities.
Morrison is survived by his wife, Harriett; a daughter, Vanessa
Morrison, of Los Angeles; brothers Samuel of Springfield,
Va., Paul of Hampton, Va., and Charles of Oxon Hill, Md.,
and a sister Frances Ross of Arlington, Va.
A memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan.
19, at the UC Berkeley Faculty Club.