Professor Emeritus David Morley known for his significant contributions

From left, David Morley and Beth Franklin

Professor Emeritus David Morley died on June 13 after a long battle with cancer. His colleagues in the Faculty of Environmental Studies (FES) wrote this tribute: 

Professor Emeritus David Morley died peacefully in his home on June 13. Through the last six years of living with cancer, David continued to inspire others with his passion for life. His life is honoured and celebrated by his wife, Beth Franklin; his brother and sister-in-law, Chris and Penny Morley; as well as his four children: Sara Morley (and partner Salvatore Barrera), John Morley, Mark Burnes (and wife Shannon) and David Burnes (and wife Andrea); his five grandchildren: Anna Cook; Erika, Mark and Colin Morley; and Benjamin Burnes.

David Morley
David Morley

David joined the Faculty of Environmental Studies in 1969, shortly after its founding. He retired in 1996, but returned as acting dean from 2001 to 2004, leading FES successfully through a challenging time. He is fondly remembered by family, friends and colleagues as an individual with an indomitable spirit and a delightfully dry sense of humour.

Over his last few years, David spent much of his time researching and writing about one of his great loves, the Faculty of Environmental Studies. After working much of his adult life at FES, he was deeply concerned with understanding what made its emergence in the late 1960s and continued presence as a Faculty at York unique. The continuing changeability of human-environment relations required a flexible way of studying those phenomena.

David Morley and Beth Franklin
From left, David Morley and Beth Franklin

In his new book, Five Decades of FES at York, co-authored with Professor Timothy B. Leduc, he writes that “an educational innovation that is largely based on the past experience of the originators runs the serious risk of reflecting what has already been learned in the past, rather than what is continuously being learned in the new context, that is, one not previously experienced.” One of his favourite quotes was by founding Dean Gerry Carrothers who stated “the day we think we completely understand what we are doing, is the day we should shut up shop.” FES was worthy of consideration to him, even as his illness got worse, because it was in his view one of the few spaces in Canada, and perhaps worldwide, where that flexibility was still institutionally supported in a Faculty status.

A celebration ceremony will be held in David’s honour on July 13. More details will follow. Donations are welcome to the Temmy Latner Centre, who organized David’s palliative care, at 416-586-8203 or

The flags on York’s main Keele and Glendon flagpoles and those at Passey residences will be flown at half-mast on July 11 to recognize the significant and outstanding contributions David made to FES, York University and the broader community.

FES will be collecting notes of remembrance for David to be shared with his family and the community. To send a memory, photo or story, e-mail Lily Piccone at