THIBODAUX, La. — Dr. Bruce T. Murphy has informed the Board of Supervisors of the University of Louisiana System of his decision to transition from the presidency of the University. Dr. Murphy, who plans to engage in other strategic initiatives in higher education, is the fifth President in the history of Nicholls State University. Dr. Murphy expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to serve the University and appreciation for the accomplishments made during his tenure. Dr. Murphy has elected to transition from his presidency at end of the 2017 calendar year.
Dr. Murphy, who also holds the military rank and distinction of Lieutenant Colonel, came to Nicholls State in January 2014 following eight and a half years of service as Vice President for Academic Affairs of the Air Force’s Air University in Montgomery, Alabama. Dr. Murphy was successful in leading Nicholls from “Warning” status under the regional accreditor (SACSCOC) to full accreditation within six months of his arrival, as he brought laser focus in addressing concerns with the applicable Principles of Accreditation. Subsequently in its decennial review, President Murphy’s leadership and guidance was key to a reaffirmation of accreditation that resulted in a perfect evaluation by SACSCOC reviewers.
During Dr. Murphy’s tenure, a number of universities across the country struggled with enrollment. Nicholls State was not only able to sustain student population during Dr. Murphy’s presidency, but the University has increased enrollment for four semesters in a row. The past year has seen freshman retention reach an all-time high, which surpassed the University’s record for freshman retention set the previous year. The University’s retention success under Dr. Murphy was evident when Nicholls State was cited as one of 52 institutions nationwide that stood out for substantially improving overall graduation rates while also achieving gains for black students, as noted in the Education Trust’s 2016 report “Rising Tide: Do College Grad Rate Gains Benefit All Students?”.
In working to support the talented University faculty, Dr. Murphy’s management of fiscal affairs was critical to the University’s ability to provide salary adjustments to the faculty in 3 of the 4 years of his presidency. This improved financial standing also allowed the University to address the salary inversion of over 20 faculty members.
Dr. Murphy also enhanced the University’s shared governance process in the establishment of his presidential cabinet (which included the faculty senate president), University Council (which included student government representation), space utilization board, and committees for budget review and personnel openings. His engaged leadership increased transparency with broad representation in interactions between the presidential cabinet and the University Council inclusive of faculty, students, unclassified employee representatives, campus police and others. His efforts and strategic vision will continue to be of benefit after the conclusion of his presidency.