Mayer completed his bachelor of science in business administration at Alabama in 1949, after returning from Army service in World War II. He went on to earn a retailing degree at New York University (1950) and worked as a buyer for Goldblatt Brothers Department Store in Chicago. He returned to academia in 1955 to earn a Ph.D. in marketing at Ohio State University.
In 1960 Mayer returned to Tuscaloosa as an associate professor of marketing. In 1969 he became the chair of the university's Department of Marketing, serving for five years. He was later named the Bruno Professor Emeritus of Marketing, a chair he held until his retirement in 1992. He continued to teach a couple of classes and to mentor students well after retiring.
Mayer died in 2008 of complications from Parkinson's disease. He was survived by his wife, Judith Morton Mayer, two daughters, Susan and Betsy, and two grandchildren. The University of Alabama's Morris Lehman Mayer Award for faculty members and graduating students who demonstrate exceptional integrity and leadership is named in his honor.
- Mason, J. Barry, Hazel F. Ezell, Morris L. Mayer (1962) Retailing. Irwin Professional Publishing. ISBN 0256058156
- Mason, J. Barry, Morris L. Mayer, J. B. Wilkinson (1982) Cases and Problems in Contemporary Retailing. Dame Publishing. ISBN 0873931394
- Mason, J. Barry, Morris L. Mayer, J. B. Wilkinson (1992) Modern Retailing: Theory and Practice. Dallas, Texas: Business Publications. ISBN 0256020728
- Taylor, Drew (February 16, 2008) "UA retail expert Mayer dies at 82." Tuscaloosa News