Brian Murphy: 14 years of student activism

De Anza president Brian Murphy announces retirement

April 20, 2018

De Anza College President Brian Murphy will be retiring on June 29 at age 73 because of health issues, but faculty members say the accomplishments of his 14-year-presidency will carry on.

The Foothill-De Anza District plans to hire a 1.5-year interim president to handle $7.5 million in planned cutbacks.

Murphy became president of De Anza in 2004 with the focus of preparing students to be engaged citizens committed to transforming their communities, according to the De Anza website.

“As soon as he got to campus, he wanted to get a civic engagement office going,” said philosophy professor Cynthia Kaufman and the director of the Vasconcellos Institute for Democracy in Action, which grew out of Murphy’s vision for a civic engagement office.

Kaufman said before Murphy was president, civic engagement opportunities were limited to a few activist clubs run by students.

Now, De Anza offers a host of institutionalized civic engagement opportunities through VIDA programs including: Higher Education for AB540 Students, a certificate in leadership and social change, community service learning and paid internships.

VIDA would not exist in the state it is today if it wasn’t for Murphy Kaufman said.
In 2005, Murphy gave funding to students who were interested in the future of the Latino community, said English and women’s studies professor Marc Coronado.

This was the beginning of LEAD, which stands for Latina/o Empowerment at De Anza.

Students were trained to be mentors, they went on field trips and met with political figures – all opportunities they otherwise would not have had Coronado said.

A few years ago, former Second Lady of the United States Jill Biden came to De Anza and Murphy arranged for LEAD students to meet her, Coronado said.

“None of that would have happened without President Murphy’s support,” she said.
LEAD today has grown into a program that offers courses in many disciplines, taught in a way that promotes civic engagement.

Under Murphy’s presidency, other learning communities such as First Year Experience, IMPACT AAPI and Men of Color were also established.

Political science professor Robert Stockwell said of Murphy, “I’m saddened to see him retire… but I’m glad for him that he’s able to.”

Student Trustee on the Foothill-De Anza Board of Trustees, Elias Kamal, 20, political science major said, “It sets a really good example for a lot of student leaders and activists – how important it is to take care of yourself.”
In an email to faculty and staff in which he announced his retirement, Murphy wrote, “It has been particularly gratifying to see so many students become active in their communities, and in the social issues that define our time.”
His leadership and desire to connect students to the community will be missed, said Coronado. “That’s probably one of the most important things he gave to us, an acknowledgement that we are a community college and that community is more than just in name only.”

Foothill-De Anza Chancellor Judy Miner sent an email to faculty and staff detailing the next steps for finding a new president.

The De Anza Academic Senate, Classified Senate and Student Body will each select three representatives to serve on the search committee, and the committee will interview and recommend an interim, according to the email.
Miner will make the final decision and announce the interim on Tuesday, May 15.

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