Candidates Green, Murphy Outline PA Experiences

As a former Flagstaff Cluster Dean, Paul Murphy ’84 “had a lot of amazingly great experiences with kids, with cluster presidents, and D.C. reps [and] learned a lot about kids and parents and how [Phillips Academy] works,” he said. Currently the Director of Summer Session, Murphy is applying for the position of Dean of Students for the 2008-2009 academic year. Rebecca Sykes, Associate Head of School, will make the selection for the six-year term in late January. Murphy, one of the two candidates, has considered the Dean of Students position since becoming a cluster dean. “I don’t think you ever don’t think about it as a cluster dean, not because you are ambitious, but because you think, ‘Well, maybe I’ll do this someday.’” The Dean of Students position has “a lot of responsibility,” Murphy said. “There is a part of me that knows that if I get this job, I’ll spend a good deal of time thinking about very serious things and be kind of mired in some of the not so fun things: you know, bad behavior, making decisions that aren’t popular…but I intend to spend a good deal of energy dealing with those things so I can spend more time on the positive things and being involved with student life.” Murphy said, “[If selected,] I am hoping that I will, by virtue of who I am, try to be out there with students and I want to keep as many natural connections as I already have with students.” Beginning in 1999, Murphy served as the Flagstaff Cluster Dean for six years. Though he enjoyed his time as a cluster dean, Murphy recognized the challenges of the position. “During my six years in Flagstaff there were definitely times when I was part of dismissals of very popular kids…I always knew there was this potential not to be liked but part of me has to ignore that part and keep going on with the other stuff because 99 percent of the kids here are doing everything right and having a good time.” Murphy had also served as a dean during summer session before he became the Director of Summer Session in the fall of 2004. “In hindsight, it was a good move…it was not what I had planned to do, but it’s turned out to be a great experience,” he said. Murphy graduated from Phillips Academy in 1984 and attended Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. In 1988 he returned to the school as a teaching fellow in mathematics. He started in the residential system as a house counselor in Hall House, a former small Junior boys’ dorm located on the Abbot Campus near Draper Cottage. Murphy also lived as a house counselor in Draper Cottage and America House. In 1993 Murphy married the former Deborah Burdett ’86, who was working in the Admissions Office. “She was a Lower during my Senior year, but we didn’t know each other,” he said. According to Murphy, he and his wife, now Associate Dean of Admission, are planning to return to the residential system, either through the Dean of Students position or through living in a dorm. The Dean of Students is in charge of residential life for boarding students. “This is a very special school…it’s very unique special place,” he said. “What comes with being here either as a faculty member or as a student is a certain level of trust, a certain level of authenticity that everyone brings to this place, and I have a hard time with anyone or anything that eats the ‘special-ness’ of this place.”