Meet Maura Murphy
Maura Murphy, a May 2009 doctoral graduate in Higher Education Administration, demonstrated her success in the field of higher education when she won second place in the Education division at the Graduate Student Research Symposium this spring. However, her studies have not always focused on this area.
In fact, for more than 20 years, Murphy has proven her expertise as a professional stage manager, including a position with at PlayMakers Repertory Company at UNC-Chapel Hill. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in drama at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA.
But after working as a stage manager on a college campus, Murphy decided she wanted to pursue a different path – college administration.
“A friend told me about the degree program in higher education administration at NC State,” she said.
In her doctoral research, Murphy explored “Contingent faculty: What impacts their organizational commitment?” Her goal was to understand how part-time and full-time contingent faculty compare to their tenured/tenure-track counterparts in terms of organizational commitment at four-year institutions. Murphy found evidence to support the claim “that institutional practices relating to recognition, support, compensation and shared governance will build the organizational commitment of contingent faculty.”
While colleges are more and more opting for non-tenured/non-tenure-track faculty, Murphy said recent research has suggested that hiring these contingent faculty members has produced adverse outcomes for students, such as lower graduation rates.
“Yet that was counterintuitive, given what I had observed in my administrative work,” she said. “I … found that contingent faculty were committed and that practices relating to support and recognition seemed to help build commitment.”
Through her study, colleges and universities will be able to find new ways to support contingent faculty and promote their effectiveness.
Last year, Murphy also presented at the Graduate Research Symposium with her Master’s thesis, which examined the issue of gender parity in higher education.
“The research symposium was an excellent opportunity to gain valuable experience in presenting,” she said. “It was very informative and helped me synthesize my data more effectively for my dissertation poster.”
When not pursuing her studies, Murphy enjoys spending time with her family, especially her children, Mark and Kate. She also likes to hike, cook and read “non-academic materials.”
Note: Since we interviewed Maura, she has taken the position of Associate Dean of Business and Finance for the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Maura’s new job is to help the school allocate personnel and other resources more effectively.
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