Giving credit where credit
At the beginning of next year, Dean Murphy will be no more. His title will be replaced by Associate Vice-President, which is decidedly less catchy. His title has become a part of his identity, and a look back over the past
15 years shows how much of a difference he has made in this position.
Fifteen years ago, Carnegie Mellon was a very different place. Not only was student retention low, but students also had a very different relationship with the University. The idea that Student Affairs would work with students did not exist; the school didn?t particularly engage student organizations. Dean Murphy changed that relationship in a fundamental way.
As Dean of Students, Michael Murphy always saw himself as an educator with the job of empowering students. He could not be further from the cartoonish representations of University deans that we see in movies such as Animal House, in which a graying, Machiavellian dean plots to undermine students. Even today, Murphy continues to see his job as one that allows students to take greater ownership of their college experience.
It is no wonder, then, that his promotion has caused such a flood of congratulations not only from those in Warner Hall, but from students as well. Similarly, individuals from outside CMU have acknowledged his work. A few years ago, when the Higher Education Research Institute acknowledged the changes that have occurred at Carnegie Mellon, Dean Murphy was one of the few individuals singled out for his role.
Few people realize that Dean Murphy?s desire to improve the student experience goes beyond the time he spends in his office. He was recently awarded a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania for his research on the metacurriculum, and plans to continue this research at the postdoctoral level.
So whether we call him Dr. Murphy, Mr. Vice-President, or just Michael, there is no denying that this man has created great changes on campus, and all for the better. It is hard not to feel that the students are losing something as he moves up the Warner Hall hierarchy, but we remain hopeful that he will be as accessible in his new position as he has been for the past 15 years. While it will be hard to say goodbye to Dean Murphy, we have a lot of faith in Jennifer Church to continue his work in the next year, and perhaps beyond.
Looking back on the past 15 years makes it hard not to appreciate what Dean Murphy has done. The Tartan has been accused of being too pro-administration in the past, but we are not ashamed to give credit where credit is due. Thanks to a hard-working staff member for 15 years of dedicated service.