Thomas Murphy

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E-mail:  tmurphy@faculty.ed.umuc.edu
Division:  UMUC Europe
Category:  Collegiate
Program:  History/Government

Biography

I was born in Georgetown, Washington, DC in 1961, and grew up in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Nauseatingly middle class. But wait, it gets better.

Attended St. John's Military Academy in DC. 1975-78. Hated it. Our school slogan was 'building boys is better than mending men'. Sly Stallone went to the same school. Got expelled. I refused to return, senior year. Graduated from Bethesda Chevy Chase High School, 1979. Who would have thought I'd work for the US military later on!

I attended the Catholic University of America (forced by parents who wanted me to have a Catholic education) for my B.A. degree in history. Entered history dept for all of the wrong reasons (i.e. girlfriend was a history major). Senior thesis: The US Senate and Opposition to the Vietnam War.

Later, attended CUA again (by choice this time) for my M.A. in politics, with a concentration in US Congressional Studies. Master's thesis was on the Radical Republicans and their influence during the southern secession movement.

Still later, I attended the University of Illinois, where I earned my Ph.D. in history in 1997. (The Midwest balanced me out - from the incredible emphasis on the national/international in DC to the delightful provincialism of Chicago was an education in itself.)

In 1993-94, I studied French language, European economics and history at L'Universite de Pau et la Pays D'Adours, Pau, France, under a scholarship from the University of Nevada. (Translation - "I've got a dissertation topic that requires lots of French..better work on that quick!)

Work

UMUC/Europe - Associate Collegiate Professor of history and government, 1998-present (Turkey, Greece, Italy, Hungary, Belgium, Germany, Kuwait).

From 1997 to 1999, I was a visiting faculty at the University of Presov, Slovakia, for the Open Society/ Soros Foundation. Lousy pay, but Eastern Europe was an education.

Research staff, American Bar Foundation / American Bar Foundation, Chicago, 1987-88, 1992-3, 1996-97. Destroyed my faith in quantitative methods in academia., 'cause that's what they used, for the most part. I worked with U of Chicago, Loyola U and Northwestern U sociology, psychology and law staff. Met Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She is a very small woman.

Tutor at the low-income Cabrini Green Housing Complex in Chicago, 1987-88, 1992-93, 1996. I tend to be partial to the poor and powerless. Mom says it's because I watched too much Batman as a kid, and had a nerd as a best friend.

Staff, Library of Congress, Inquiry Division, Washington, DC. 1994-96. Great job. I worked for the Congressional Research Service, the research arm of LC. 

We were the 'brain' of Congress, providing info to congressional offices on policy matters. This is just after Newt Gingrich's Revolution of '94, when the Republicans took control of the House of Representatives. An interesting time. Gingrich personally assigned Charles Murray's THE BELL CURVE as required reading for the (53?) new Repub members of congress. The Library of Congress blocked the request as being too partisan, to fund at govt expense.

Staff work in and around the US Congress: US Representative Thomas Downey (NY), 1982; US Sen. Gary Hart (CO), presidential campaign, 1983, Washington, DC; Hon. Walter Mondale Presidential campaign, 1984. US Rep. Michael Barnes (MD), 1986. US Sen. Paul Simon, Chicago, 1987. 

The political game never ends. I believe that politics, despite popular opinion, is a fascinating world in which to operate, - politics is truly an art, and there is beauty in it - but finding ones bearings can be tricky. Everyone speaks English - but nothing really makes sense on the level. MAKING sense and getting the message across is the trick.

Interests

Currently, I am trying to balance songwriting with academics. I have a developing recording studio in my home, and I write and record music in my spare time. Sometime soon, I hope to have some original songs online. I'm no Sinatra or Clapton, but I'm well intended....the blues tend to be my guide.

Besides that, I love to travel - to visit small towns and hike in the Belgian Ardennes - and to play as much basketball, tennis and racquetball as I have time for. Which ain't much.

Books

  1. "A Land Without Castles: European Perspectives of America 1780-1830," Lexington Books, Rowman-Littlefield Press, 2001.

  2. [forthcoming in 2006-07] "Popular Culture in Eastern Bloc Europe: 1960-1990", Rowman-Littlefield Press.

Nomination Essay

THOMAS K. MURPHY, Ph.D. / Candidate Statement

Well, one can run a campaign on promises to one's loyal constituents, to one's base.....

But...

In this case, the 'base' (not to mention constituencies) is hard to come by. In the real world of UMUC, I write to you from a leaky attic in the Belgian countryside, with Three Dog Night on the stereo. How hip (or connected) can that possibly be?

The point is that we are all, one way or another, in the same boat. Isolated. Underrepresented. Vulnerable. Taken for granted. Connected only 'virtually', through electronic channels.

The reason that I am running for FAC is that I believe the U of MD can serve its faculty much better than it does at present. Yes, I have an agenda of ideas - regarding the re-evaluation of pay structure, improving community among faculty, preserving freedom in your classroom - but the immediately over-arching issue in my view is the widespread perception of powerlessness among faculty at present. There is a growing perception that UMUC/Adelphi policies are presented to faculty only as 'fait accompli' directives, without any advanced discussion or real desire for input. This needs to change. Why? 

This past summer, I attended the Leadership Institute for UMUC faculty, at Adelphi. We were told flat out that 'UMUC faculty forms the heart of the university'. That we are the center. Call me crazy - but I actually believe that. I've always argued that a university - any university - is no better than its teachers and its library. And I wish to restore the UMUC faculty to our rightful place - that of the core of the UMUC project. 

At the Adelphi conference participants were also told - implicitly - that big changes are underway. We faculty need to be apprised of our future, and to understand how to act BEFORE we have to react. Your rep in the FAC needs to be a vigilant watchdog to inform you about policy proposals before you are presented with the final admin decisions on matters of policy.

My campaign promises are but three: devoted work, belief in you, the faculty, and accessibility. I'll work with the administration, but always with your articulated interests in mind.

Please feel free to contact me with any question or comments that you might have.