Sept. 9, 2008

Susan Murphy, with Cornell on her heart, is honored by Tradition endowment

Susan H. Murphy, A.B '73, Ph.D. '94, Cornell vice president for student and academic services, has dedicated more than 30 years to Cornell. And if you were to look inside her, said Hunter R. Rawlings, pointing to his heart, "there would be Cornell written right here."

Rawlings, president emeritus and longtime professor of classics, was speaking at a reception on Sept. 6 in the Hans Bethe Common Room on West Campus celebrating an anonymous endowment to the Cornell Tradition Fellowship in Murphy's name.

"Susan is one of my favorite people at Cornell," said Rawlings. "She's done just about everything at Cornell, but I think the main thing is that she loves Cornell, and she shows it in every facet of her work. She is certainly deserving of this honor."

The Cornell Tradition began 25 years ago with a donation of $7 million and has since been supported by alumni and friends. Each year the program helps support 500 undergraduates who are active on and off campus. Fellows contribute more than 145,000 hours of work and 54,000 hours of service to Cornell and the community annually. The Susan H. Murphy Fellowship will grant one Cornell Tradition student up to $4,000 a year.

"Obviously I'm honored and humbled and overwhelmed," said Murphy. "To have someone endow a scholarship in your name while you're still alive is unbelievable, and to have my name associated with the Tradition is absolutely terrific."

Murphy joined the Cornell staff in 1978; for 16 years she worked in Admissions and Financial Aid, including nine years as dean of admissions and financial aid.

"I've worked with Susan for a number of years," said Kristine DeLuca, director of the Cornell Commitment program. "She has an incredible capacity for remembering people's names and facts and life stories. And she genuinely cares about the students -- that is something I really admire about her."

The reception preceded a dinner with Rawlings, some of Murphy's family and other supporters of the Cornell Tradition, including the first recipient of the Susan H. Murphy Fellowship, Lillian Aoki '12.

Murphy mentioned that Cornell Tradition fellows are among the most loyal to Cornell after graduation, and she spoke about what students can take from the fellowship.

"I hope that they have an appreciation for not only this donor but for the generations before them that are making this possible," said Murphy. "I hope it shows that you can build a fabulous career at a university and contribute a lot -- not necessarily through money but through accomplishment. There's no greater reward than to have that recognized, especially to have it be associated with students."

Brandon Chiazza '09 is a writer intern for the Cornell Chronicle.