Murphy leaves legacy, begins new chapter
MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- Dr. Bruce T. Murphy goes through paper work at his desk Nov. 8, 2013. Murphy is retiring from his position as Air University’s vice president of academic affairs Dec. 31, 2013. He spent five years in the position, and is taking presidency of Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, La. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Natasha Stannard)
by Staff Sgt. Natasha Stannard
42nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs
12/9/2013 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- He joined as a Soldier and is now leaving the service for a second time as an Airman.
After eight years with the Air University, Dr. Bruce T. Murphy will retire as the university's vice president of academic affairs Dec. 31.
The former U.S. Army lieutenant colonel said that he thoroughly enjoyed his experiences in the military, pointing out the memorabilia collected throughout his career neatly displayed in his office.
He said the Army gave him the opportunity to see the world and gain a lot of insight, but he never thought he would have the opportunity to work for the military again, much less in an educational realm. However, after several years of working at civilian educational institutions, including Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., he found himself with the perfect amount of military and civilian educational insight to apply for the AU position.
As vice president of academic affairs, Murphy oversaw all AU's curriculum and served as an advisor to the AU president.
"Dr. Murphy directly and positively influenced the university's core mission, which we can sum up in four simple, but powerful, words: 'We produce the future,'" said Lt. Gen. David Fadok, AU commander and president.
Fadok explained that Murphy did just that for the 1,994,267 students who graduated from an AU school since his time here.
Through his advice and oversight, Murphy ensured that the work Airmen put into their military education is recognized by civilian institutions through accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. He was also instrumental in the development of the Community College of the Air Force's Associate-to-Baccalaureate Cooperative, which allows enlisted members to build upon their associate degrees.
"We are a military organization first and foremost, that's what we do," Murphy explained. "But, we are also a university. 'Who represents that (university) side?' I've always seen that as my job; to make sure we are doing things as a university and as a military organization."
"Murphy was the leading advocate for quality of civilian education as well as military education," said Norman Augustine, an AU Board of Visitors member and former chief executive officer of the Lockheed Martin Corporation. "I think his greatest contribution was to assure that the quality of standards met in the academics here were at least equal to those that civilian institutes provide."
However, Murphy worked as a liaison telling civilian sectors what the military had to study and asking what was required to get those studies accounted for by non-military colleges.
"I think he understood that balance," said Augustine of Murphy's goal to balance military and civilian educational needs. "It's accredited in the civilian world, but it also has to be highly respected in military community. ... At the same time, if it's going to award degrees recognized in the civilian academic world it has to meet academic standards not established in the Air Force, but outside. Bruce did a superb job at assuring those standards are met."
In addition to his efforts with military education, Murphy also helped give AU a university feel by establishing some civilian collegiate traditions.
One of these traditions was the mace, an ornamental staff borne as a symbol of authority in civilian collegiate ceremonies, and now in use at AU.
"Along with the use of the mace, we've added honorary degrees," he added, pointing to a picture on his wall of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. "She was our first. Once we started this, we also started having convocation with caps and gowns."
As Murphy leaves his legacy of traditions and programs here, he moves forward or in this case west, to the next step in his career. Murphy was recently chosen as the next president of Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, La.
At NSU, Murphy plans to take lessons from his experience here along with him.
"I am going to a new environment so some goals are a little different," he explained. "But one thing that will remain the same is focusing on student opportunity and success."
Murphy's goals include: aligning academics with career goals; applying innovation and entrepreneurship; internationalization, to include study abroad programs similar to the International Officer School at AU; remain a veteran-friendly institution, making enrollment and transfers smooth for the military; and serve the needs of the region and state of Louisiana.
During his time here, Murphy contributed to the fruition of many of the Air University's programs:
· The reaffirmation of Southern Association of Colleges and Schools accreditation for all of Air University elevating the university from a level III to a level V institution
· Air University's first doctorate of Philosophy in Military Strategy
· Master of Science in Flight Test Engineering degree for graduates of the USAF Test Pilot School
· Air University's online master's degree program (Air Command and Staff College)
· The Community College of the Air Force's Associate-to-Baccalaureate Cooperative and General Education Module programs
· Civilian Acculturation Leadership Training course
· Air University Corporate Structure process ensuring all decisions impacting AU are properly coordinated
· Air University's honorary doctorate program
· Major university reorganization into centers and institutions
· Ongoing professional military education improvements with both in-residence and distance learning courses