Montana Technological University selects Bob Morris as Lance Energy Chair


Butte, MT – Bob Morris has been selected as the inaugural endowed Lance Energy Chair. The chair will enhance the prominence of Montana Tech as a national leader in energy by leveraging private funding and developing partnerships with industry, trade organizations, national labs, and state/federal agencies.

“Montana Tech has been a leader in the energy field since its beginnings. The Lance Energy Chair will assist us in elevating this focus and amplifying all we do. Significant momentum is occurring in the energy transition, and Bob has both the expertise and vision to ensure that Montana Tech continues to lead in this transition,” said Chancellor Les Cook.

The position was created as part of a historic $31 million donation to the Montana Tech Foundation from alumnus Ryan Lance (Petroleum Engineering, ’84), and his wife Lisa, in April 2023.

“Lisa and I are incredibly pleased with hiring Bob Morris as the inaugural endowed Lance Energy Chair. Bob has a distinguished career in the energy industry and will undoubtedly accelerate Montana Technological University’s position as a leader in energy education and research,” noted Lance. “His experience in the private sector will create new, innovative ways for the University to broaden its scope with government, industry, and independent stakeholders to focus and develop cross-disciplinary opportunities to secure a sustainable energy future for all.”

Morris is a Butte native who earned his bachelor’s degree in geophysical engineering from Montana Tech in 1984. He went on to earn a master’s in engineering science from Montana Tech in 1991.

“We welcome Bob Morris to our Montana Tech family as the inaugural Lance Energy Chair. Bob brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in the energy sector that will inspire our students and enrich our academic and research environment. I would also like to thank Lisa and Ryan Lance for their generous donation and vision of making Montana Tech a prominent leader in energy,” said Lance College of Mines and Engineering Dean Kenneth Lee.

Morris started his professional career in the oil and gas exploration business before pivoting into the electric power systems industry.

“I’ve worked in electric power for the past 35 years, focusing on the protection and control of electric power systems around the world, including the high-voltage power grid, and large industrial power plants at refineries and mining operations,” Morris said.

When Morris retired five years ago, he became a power systems consultant specializing in energy and materials. He collaborated with Montana Tech, mining companies, and tribal governments on projects involving carbon-free energy sources including wind, solar, and nuclear power. 

Morris decided to apply for the position after seeing the work the University, Montana Tech Foundation, and Lance family were doing to make a difference in the world.

“I’m honored to join the Montana Tech team,” Morris said. “I saw an opportunity to give back to the University after a rewarding career in energy. This will also allow me to continue to contribute to society. Working in the energy industry is intellectually stimulating, and very rewarding because we are helping humanity improve the standard of living.”

In addition to forming critical partnerships with industry partners, academics, agencies, and trade organizations, Morris looks forward to bringing the next generation to Montana Tech to tackle pressing engineering problems that impact nearly all of mankind. 

“I will work very hard to attract students into the important energy industry,” Morris said. “The world is going through an energy evolution, affecting everyone’s life. Montana Tech has 125 years of experience in the field. The position is important to enhance Tech’s leadership, but it’s also important to remember our past and stick to fundamentals.”