WILMINGTON — Watson College of Education (WCE) professor Robert Smith is the recipient of the first Wendy and Dell Murphy Distinguished Professorship in Education at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, the university has announced. The Murphy family established the distinguished professorship to support teaching, scholarship and engagement in WCE.
“Along with the ideas and intellectual energy, Dr. Smith will contribute to his work as the Murphy Professor of Education, he brings a passion for supporting public education, schools and teachers,” said WCE Dean Van Dempsey. “I am certain this passion will fuel the energy of colleagues in the Watson College, in our relationships with K-12 schools and educators, and among our key policy stakeholders.”
Wendy Murphy ’93 was a member of the UNCW Board of Trustees from 2005-15 and served two terms as board chair. In a 2014 interview, the Wallace resident, who majored in elementary education at UNCW, said the WCE faculty encouraged her interest in becoming a community leader for education.
Smith is a professor in the Department of Instructional Technology, Foundations and Secondary Education. He joined the UNCW faculty in 1991. As WCE’s Murphy Distinguished Professor, he will work to identify and share best practices in public school innovation through partnerships at the state, district and individual school levels. His appointment is for three years.
“Educational reform has often been pursued through accountability rather than innovation,” Smith said. “We need to support teachers and schools and provide incentives to create and share innovative educational practices. I will be an advocate for change and will work to build support for incorporating effective new practices into K-12 schools.”
The Murphy family established the distinguished professorship with a matching grant from The North Carolina Distinguished Professors Endowment Trust Fund to support teaching, scholarship and engagement through WCE. The professorship focuses on K-12 education with an emphasis on innovation, school reform and research in policy and practice. UNCW’s Strategic Plan includes an increased focus on fundraising for key initiatives, such as distinguished professorships to support faculty teaching and research.
“The Murphys’ generous gift will support research and innovation that will benefit both students and educators in North Carolina,” said Eddie Stuart, vice chancellor for university advancement. “We thank Wendy and Dell Murphy for their continued commitment to UNCW’s educational mission.”
The University of North Carolina Wilmington, the state’s coastal university, is dedicated to learning through the integration of teaching and mentoring with research and service. Guided by our Strategic Plan, the university is committed to nurturing a campus culture that reflects its values of diversity and globalization, ethics and integrity, and excellence and innovation. A public institution with more than 15,000 students, the university is focused on supporting and enhancing the student-centered learning experience that has been a hallmark since its founding in 1947. UNCW offers an array of programs at the baccalaureate and master’s levels, and doctoral programs in marine biology, educational leadership, psychology and nursing practice.
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