Dedicated Leader

Dedicated Leader

September 16, 2011
Retiring director of programs and budgets helped shape the Jepson School

When Sue Murphy came to the University of Richmond 20 years ago, she had no idea the path her career would take or the opportunities she would be afforded. When she retires this month as director of programs and budgets for the Jepson School, she will have made her mark on the nation’s first School of Leadership Studies.

“I started out part-time as a secretary for the Women’s Resource Center and moved to what was then Speech Communication, Theatre, and Dance for six years,” she recalls. Her move to the Jepson School was unexpected.  

“I was in the Human Resources office one day to drop something off and the then-head of HR grabbed me and said, ‘there’s an opening in the leadership school. I think you should apply.’”   

It was a good move. Murphy started out as assistant to the dean and steadily became the go-to person and backbone of the school. In her 13 years at Jepson, her role has changed, but one thing has remained the same: her dedication to her work, the school and the University.

“In many ways, Sue embodies what I call ‘invisible leadership.’ She knows what the purpose of the Jepson School is, she buys into it and she takes the leadership,” says professor Gill Hickman. “She knows what has to be done and she gets it done.”

Dean Sandra J. Peart agrees. “Sue has led the Jepson School by example, with good humor and quiet determination. She has been a great source of stability through six deans and the changes that have taken place. I can’t say enough good things about her.”

Murphy’s jobs have included tasks ranging from keeping the dean’s calendar and working on class schedules to supervising staff, handling the budget and serving on the leadership team.   

Making the arrangements for Margaret Thatcher’s visit to campus and traveling to Cape Town, South Africa with the faculty for a program on the art of teaching leadership were among the highlights, she says. 

“I also enjoy any event where alumni come back,” she adds. “I love hearing about what they’re doing.”

Murphy is also an alumna. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the School of Continuing Studies in 2004. “Her reputation was that she was as talented and dedicated in the classroom as she was in her work at Jepson,” says James Narduzzi, dean of SCS.

She has earned several awards for her efforts, including the Jepson Award for Leadership and Service, which recognizes outstanding community service, and the Servant Leader Award given by the Jepson Student Government Association.

“Sue is the most ‘I’ll take care of it’ person I’ve ever worked with.  All of us at Jepson have been spoiled by having her with us,” says Al Goethals. 

 Murphy modestly shakes off any such praise. “I’ve gotten a lot out of my time here as well.

“It’s hard to name the best thing about working for the University or the Jepson School. There are so many things. It’s a beautiful campus. The people here are great. The benefits are fantastic. And it’s just a place that makes you want to keep learning. The best thing was coming to work every day.”