It has been almost a year since the search committee to find the next Nicholls State University president convened in the auditorium of Peltier Hall.
The search successfully concluded in September, and the university’s faculty, students and community witnessed the first inaugural ceremony held Thursday with Bruce Murphy at the forefront of that same auditorium.
Nicholls’ fifth president, who’s been serving in that capacity since January, said he has enjoyed every minute of the position so far.
“I was always told ‘When it’s right you’ll know,’” Murphy said. “Jeanne and I knew it was right from the first time we stepped on campus.”
Sandra Woodley, president of the University of Louisiana System, who presented Murphy with the presidential medal, said qualifications and experience were among important criteria in finding the right leadership for Nicholls.
Also important was a candidate who was not motivated by status or a title, but an individual motivated by the work involved.
“I think Bruce Murphy is a leader who is motivated by work,” Woodley said.
While Woodley reviewed more than 12 resumes for the position, when she got to Murphy’s paperwork, she thought, “There’s something special about this one.”
So far, Murphy’s presence on campus and in the community has not gone unnoticed.
The president and his wife began the inaugural week on Sunday with an alumni jazz brunch, where he met with young and seasoned alumni.
Last Tuesday, Murphy attended the Art Works event where he submitted a painting he created from one of his favorite photographs taken in Hawaii for the event’s silent auction.
Melissa Cloutet, president of the Student Government Association at Nicholls, said Murphy’s presence on campus shows genuine concern for student’s ideas and opinions.
“Although Dr. Murphy has just begun his journey at Nicholls State, he has already captured what it means to be a true Colonel,” Cloutet said at the ceremony. “We look forward to working with you, learning from you and thriving together.”
Murphy took time to acknowledge success stories within the university’s programs such as the Honors Program having a record number of graduates, the nursing program receiving full accreditation with distinction and the History department offering courses in conjunction with the National World War II Museum in New Orleans.
He plans to move “Forward Together,” and recognizes the university’s need for more resources.
Murphy quoted Winston Churchill to the crowd, “Gentlemen, we have run out of money, now we have to think.”
“Every place I go, the problem is always resources,” he said. “My job is to find the resources. Sometimes it’s money or other avenues.”
Murphy said the administration plans to establish a university advancement position to develop strategic initiatives for funding, while building closer relationships with Delgado Community College and Fletcher Technical Community College. There are also plans to expand curriculum in majors such as maritime management and geomatics.
And although he recognizes his position in the front office at Nicholls, he wants to remain active with what goes on around campus.
“I’m pretty good with the students out of class, but I’ve told the faculty I’m anxious to start dropping in class,” Murphy said. “The purpose isn’t for me to evaluate or judge, the purpose is for me to get a sense of what’s going on.”
Bringing change to Nicholls, Murphy also proposed the idea for the first inauguration ceremony at the university.
“This is what universities do, this is how universities transition,” he said. “This is not about Bruce Murphy, it is about putting the spotlight on Nicholls.”
Monique Crochet, alumni director and one of the coordinators for the inauguration week, planned the events in less than two months when most universities have a year or longer to plan.
“Dr. Murphy was a big help because he’s been to several inaugurations and like Dr. Murphy said, the whole idea of this was to bring more people to campus,” Crochet said.
After the recessional of Nicholls faculty, deans, administrators and state educators made their way to the campus’ quadrangle, Murphy, along with his wife, cut the inauguration cake with a sword to honor a military tradition from their past.
Moving forward, the Nicholls community is optimistic of what is to come.
Stephen Michot, faculty Senate president, compared the fifth president of the United States, James Monroe, to the fifth president of Nicholls in the sense that both men ushered an era of “good feelings.”
“Nicholls views the inauguration of Bruce Murphy as an era of good feelings,” Michot said.
Sandra Woodley, president of the University of Louisiana System, presents Bruce Murphy with the presidential medal at Nicholls State University’s inauguration ceremony last week. Murphy takes the position as the fifth president of Nicholls, and the first president to have an inauguration ceremony in the institution’s history.