Maureen Kendrick Murphy '78
Alumni Loyalty Award, 2011
Pictured left to right: Maureen Kendrick Murphy '78; Mary K. McGuffey '94, president of the National Alumni Board; and J. Cameron West, president of the College.
Dr. Maureen Kendrick Murphy’s love for Huntingdon College began when she attended Huntingdon’s “Step Ahead” summer program following her junior year in high school. She took 14 credit hours, including chemistry with professor Dr. Ward Knockemus, who kept in contact with Maureen her senior year. She was offered scholarships to Baylor, Rice, Notre Dame, Huntingdon, and Birmingham-Southern; but chose Huntingdon because of how much she had enjoyed Dr. Knockemus’s chemistry class and teaching style. During her years as a student at Huntingdon, Dr. Murphy was president of the Chemistry-Pre-Med Club and vice president of Circle K. She was elected for membership into Huntingdon’s International Relations Club, Alpha Beta, Tri Sigma, and Who’s Who. She was also on the Dean’s List of High Honors each semester.
Dr. Murphy received her Ph.D. in chemistry and biochemistry from the University of South Carolina, subsequently serving as a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Chicago. From 1986–90, she served as assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, where she was awarded a Lilly Education Foundation Teacher-Scholar Award for innovation in teaching. She left academic research and lived in rural Northwest Alabama with her husband, Dr. Michael Derrington Murphy, where she taught high school chemistry and physics and served as chair of the science department for seven years. While teaching high school Dr. Murphy received several national awards, including the National Tandy Technology Scholar Award for incorporation of technology into science classrooms.
Dr. Murphy has served on the Huntingdon College faculty since 1997 and has served as professor and chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry since 2004. She initiated the biochemistry major at Huntingdon, nearly quadrupling the number of majors in five years. In recent years, she has continued her endeavors to understand nature and has incorporated her interests into the development of innovative courses to introduce non-science majors to the scientific method. She has received all teaching awards given by the College, including the Julia Lightfoot Sellers Faculty Award, which is voted on by secret ballot of the juniors and seniors at Huntingdon for that faculty member who “demonstrates by example integrity, nobility of purpose, and a desire for learning in the students.”
As an alumna, Dr. Murphy has served Huntingdon as a member of the National Alumni Board and helped to develop an alumni mentoring program. She has represented faculty and alumni on Huntingdon’s two Strategic Planning Committees and the Bellingrath Renovation Committee, and was elected by faculty to be one of two professors on the Presidential Search Committee. She has served as Gift Agent and helped to organize class reunions, tours and dinners for her class. Dr. Murphy serves as faculty sponsor at Huntingdon of the Phi Eta Sigma national freshman honor society, the American Chemical Society-Student Affiliate Chapter, the “Huntingdon Rx,” Huntingdon’s Pre-Pharmacy Club, and the Faculty Liaison Program for Ligon Residence Hall, among others.
Since graduation from Huntingdon, she has been a loyal alumni and donor to the College, and is a member of The Huntingdon Society. She continues to give back to the College that she believes shaped not only her own life, but also the lives of others in so many ways. She considers her 15 years of teaching chemistry at Huntingdon as a “form of worship,” and feels very fortunate to work at her alma mater.