Reverend Darren M. Morton (B.B.A. ’89)
Reverend Darren M. Morton Q & A:
What is your fondest memory of Hofstra?
My fondest memory of Hofstra is being a NOAH student and my initiation into Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. It was both the NOAH Program and the fraternity that provided me with lasting relationships with so many people, who remain close friends today. I attribute my success as an educator and leader to those undergraduate experiences as a student leader and a community volunteer. It was at Hofstra, through my early years as a NOAH student, and later years as member of the fraternity, that I developed a sense of care for humankind. The NOAH Program taught me the importance of giving back to the community, and my initiation into Alpha Phi Alpha shaped my role as broad-based campus leader, i.e. president of the African People’s Organization and vice president of the Hofstra Gospel Ensemble.
What was your first job after graduating from Hofstra, and what was the most valuable thing you learned there?
Ironically I did not go far; in fact, my first job was as an admissions counselor for Hofstra. Being an admissions counselor was an invaluable experience and a pleasure because I loved my experience at Hofstra, so it was second nature to encourage other students to attend. My most valuable “take-aways” include the experience to travel the world, the interaction with prospective Hofstra students, developing a passion for working with college students, and the mentorship of Joan Isaac Mohr – who was the vice president of enrollment at Hofstra.
What is your field of specialty, and how did you come to work in the industry?
This is not an easy answer because I am bi-vocational. Since my time at Hofstra, I have worked as a college administrator, adjunct professor, and Baptist minister. My entrance into higher education started with my heavy involvement as a student-leader while attending Hofstra, and my first job there as an admissions counselor. Over the last 22 years, I have had a progressive career, most recently serving as associate vice president of student affairs and director of the Vincentian Institute of Social Action (VISA) at St. John’s University. As a clergyman, I was ordained as a Baptist minister in 1997. Since that time I have served in numerous ministerial positions, including youth minister, superintendent of Sunday school, interim pastor, and am currently pastor of the Macedonia Baptist Church of Mount Vernon, NY.
What advice would you give current Hofstra students?
Enjoy your time at Hofstra and always step outside of your comfort zone to intellectually, socially, and globally grow as a person. Hofstra students must take advantage of the outstanding faculty, innovative technology, diverse student body, and co-curricular opportunities. These were the benefits I received and absorbed from my time as an undergraduate at Hofstra. Each of those aspects was undoubtedly impactful to shaping my perspective of the world, personal philosophy of service to community and professional drive to make a difference.
In one word, how would you describe Hofstra?
How has your business degree from Hofstra helped you as a pastor?
As pastor of Macedonia Baptist Church, a congregation with more than 400 members and a multi-million dollar facility, having business acumen is essential. My business degree has assisted with general business practices, such as budget and finance, strategic planning, organizational effectiveness, and revenue generation. I use the concepts learned in accounting, marketing, management and information technology every day to enhance the administration function, and expand the community services provided by the church. Our church aims to be a “community church” that provides services to address the spiritual, cultural and social needs of the people. To that end, we must have a “business plan,” and these concepts were taught to me while attending Zarb Business School at Hofstra.
What is your favorite part of your job?
I absolutely love pastoring the people – attending to the needs of my congregation. Each day I find myself heavily involved in the lives of struggling people. People come to the church and the pastor seeking relief, and I gain great satisfaction from being God’s vessel and change-agent in their lives. My favorite part of my job is sharing the Gospel and serving as a servant-leader to the Mount Vernon community.
Do you have a quote or saying that has kept you motivated through the years?
Yes, one I made up myself. “The life we live is not a period, question mark, or a comma – rather our life is an ellipsis. We are continuously developing and there are limitless possibilities – just keep giving it a try.”
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Where do you see your careers progressing to in the future?
In 10 years, I see myself as a prominent pastor, professor, and civic leader. Most likely, I will remain in New York at Macedonia Baptist Church until retirement, while teaching college courses in educational and executive leadership. I will continue to develop a social justice agenda for the church, especially focused on improving the quality of education in urban communities. If I leave New York and travel south, I may consider a career path as a president of a historically black college or university or small liberal arts college.
Reverend Darren M. Morton (B.B.A. ’89) is a man of many talents, specifically in the areas of social action, urban ministry, college administration, student development, and leadership. He constantly works to strengthen families and enhance the lives of young people of all races and nationalities. He is heavily involved in civic and social endeavors specifically affecting youth and the underprivileged of all ages. Rev. Morton is the seventh pastor and religious leader of the Macedonia Baptist Church in Mount Vernon, New York, where he received his conversion and baptism. His love of God brought him to the pulpit in 1994, under the tutelage of the great Reverend Dr. Richard H. Dixon, Jr., and was ordained in 1997. In 2009, during a transition period for his home church, he accepted the request to serve as interim pastor while he also continued to serve with the Vacation Bible School and other church programs as needed. Previously he served as an associate minister and youth minister for 15 years, assistant Sunday school superintendent and executive director of the Macedonia Baptist Church Mentoring Program.
For decades, Rev. Morton has focused his community efforts on the interplay between faith and education. To that end, he currently serves as the commissioner of Recreation for the City of Mount Vernon, NY, and has held several administrative positions at Hofstra University and St. John's University in a variety of student development areas, including college admissions, new student orientation, residential life, student activities, academic tutorial services, multicultural affairs, leadership development, and student development. Most recently, he served as the associate vice president for student affairs and director of the Vincentian Institute for Social Action (VISA) at St. John's University in Queens, NY. In addition to his many community efforts, he is a doctoral student at St. John Fisher College and an adjunct instructor for the School of Education at St. John's University. As a civic leader, he serves the community as chairman of the Education Committee for the United Black Clergy Big Brothers, chairman of Big Sisters of Brooklyn & Queens Advisory Board, member of Mount Vernon Branch NAACP, advisor to the St. John's College Chapter of NAACP, past master of Progressive Lodge #64, and former president of the Third Masonic District, Prince Hall Affiliated, Free and Accepted Masons.
He is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., the oldest black Greek-lettered Intercollegiate Organization, where he has maintained active membership since 1987, holding numerous leadership and committee appointments, including 24th Eastern Region vice president/ national board member (2001-2005), NY District director, Eastern Region executive director, and most recent chairman of National Intake Taskforce. Additionally, he serves as the chairman and CEO of the William Ross Education Foundation, the 501c3 organization for the Eastern Region of Alpha Phi Alpha and chairman of the Wesley Parrott Youth Programs, St. Albans, NY.
Rev. Morton is a graduate of Hofstra and St. John's Universities, where he earned Bachelor of Business Administration and Master of Education degrees, respectively. He is a graduate of Tabernacle Bible Institute and Manhattan Bible Institute and has taken graduate theology courses at St. John's University. He was a founding member of Hofstra’s Black/Hispanic Alumni Association. He travels the nation with a message that the appropriate education, adequate social development and unique leadership skills serve as a springboard for success.