The first week of fall semester is the beginning of a first-year experience for thousands of freshmen arriving on College of Southern Maryland’s campuses, and this week those new students are sharing the experience with CSM’s new president, Dr. Maureen Murphy, who began as the fifth president of the college this summer.
First-week activities have been welcoming opportunities for both students and Murphy as the new president has spent time at each campus meeting and greeting students.
— Dr. Maureen Murphy (@murphydrmaureen) September 9, 2017
The La Plata, Leonardtown and Prince Frederick campuses filled with students attending classes, getting identification badges, buying books and greeting friends the week of Sept. 5-9, with Murphy in their midst and sharing in the excitement.
“It never gets old,” Murphy said, in between giving out ice cream to students at the Prince Frederick Campus. “The beginning of school is always exciting. You get a fresh start every year. This is my first week of a new semester at CSM and I get to see students experiencing CSM for the first time, too. Loads of fun.”
Murphy said she was so excited about the start of the fall semester that she was one of the first people on the La Plata Campus, Sept. 5, the first day of classes. “I had to unlock everything in my building,” she said.
On the first day of class at the La Plata Campus, Murphy stopped by the Student Life welcome table, where they were giving out free doughnuts and coffee as well as CSM T-shirts, one of which was presented to Murphy. At the College Store, she chatted with students who were waiting in line to buy supplies and textbooks, asking them about their classes and the course of study they were pursuing.
In the library she talked to students waiting to have their photo ID taken. One of those students was David Sebulime recently of Uganda, who only arrived in the United States two weeks prior, and is planning to study for his pharmacy technician certificate as well as another undecided course of study.
“I wish you luck,” Murphy said to Sebulime after learning about his plans.
Whittney Wilson of Waldorf was another student who met Murphy in the library. The mother of two is a returning student planning to study communication to prepare for work as an advocate for children with disabilities. “I never would have thought she was the [college] president without her name tag,” Wilson said after. “She’s a really involved person to be interested in regular people like me.”
Murphy visited with students at the Prince Frederick Campus the following day, helping the Student Association hand out free ice cream to students and staff. She met Alondra Lopez-Perez of Lexington Park who is finishing her last semester at CSM, completing two associate degrees, as she works to transfer and pursue her goal of becoming an orthopedic surgeon.
“She is the caring, lovely and kind person you would like to work with every day,” Lopez-Perez said of her visit with Murphy. “She asked me about my experience at CSM, why I chose the college, and what do I like the most about the college. One of the qualities that really impressed me about her was how caring she is. When talking to her, as soon as she knew that I am from Puerto Rico, she asked how my family was doing because of the Hurricane Irma. [The next day] as soon as she saw me she hugged me and she asked me right away how my family was doing. She really demonstrates that she cares about her students and their unique circumstances.”
Murphy also chatted with students working in the Student Success office, including nursing students Lisa Malecki of Prince Frederick and Kimberleigh Nicholas of St. Leonard, who, even as the semester was just beginning, were already teaming up to study together. Murphy also met with Nakida Claggett of Chesapeake Beach, a communication student in her second semester at CSM.
Murphy marked the beginning of the fall semester at the Leonardtown Campus the following day, speaking before members of Maryland’s Appropriations Committee, which had chartered a bus from Annapolis to make several stops in St. Mary’s County including a briefing from CSM’s new leader. Afterward, she met with students and staff at the Wellness and Aquatics Center.
Murphy said her transition to CSM and Southern Maryland has been an easy one. “I feel like I’ve been here forever,” she said.
One reason for Murphy’s ease at this point is the work she’s put in and the welcome she’s received during the two months leading up to the start of the fall semester. Since her arrival July 1, her first 11 weeks have been highlighted by visits from both state and federal legislators who assist CSM with critical funding support, including U.S. Congressman Steny Hoyer (Md.-5th) and U.S. Senator Ben Cardin, as well as introductions to state senators and delegates, county commissioners and Md. Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford.
“I am confident her years of experience in the community college system will be exceptionally beneficial to CSM,” Hoyer said after their July 6 meeting. ”I look forward to working with Dr. Murphy … to build upon the success of former President Dr. Bradley Gottfried and ensure more students have access to quality, affordable higher education in Southern Maryland.”
During July and August, Murphy became further acclimated to the college by holding listening sessions with employee groups from the different offices at the college and through what she described as “a great deal of reading.” In addition, Murphy participated in the CSM Foundation’s 26th Annual Golf Classic at the Swan Point Yacht and Country Club on Aug. 10, meeting many community and business leaders while being part of an event that raised more than $89,000 toward CSM academic and career training scholarships and the college’s athletic programs.
Murphy comes to CSM after serving as president of Brookdale Community College, a multi-campus community college in New Jersey. Before her appointment at Brookdale in 2012, she served as president of San Jacinto College South in Houston, Texas, and as vice president at both Rappahannock Community College and Wytheville Community College in Virginia.
Murphy began her career teaching English at St. Louis Community College-Meramec, where she later served as a dean. Murphy has been an active member of the American Association for Women in Community Colleges (AAWCC) since 1995, and has served on the national board (two years as president) since 2007.
She has received numerous awards including the Shirley B. Gordon Award of Distinction by Phi Theta Kappa, the Distinguished Corporate Leadership Award by the Greater Red Bank NAACP and the Carolyn DesJardins CEO of the Year Award by AAWCC. Currently, Murphy is on the board of directors for the American Association of Community Colleges, the national organization representing more than 1,100 colleges.
Murphy earned her bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Louisville, her master’s degree in English from the University of Missouri – Columbia and her doctorate in American Studies from Saint Louis University.
For information on Murphy and CSM leadership, visit http://www.csmd.edu/about/leadership/.