NU Community Celebrates the Life of Dr. Brian Murphy

October 12, 2013  |  by Michael Freedman

  • Students celebrate life of Dr. Murphy.

    Niagara University students Nick Solly, Leanne Stuck, Courtney Corbetta and Cole Bielecki participate in an African drum circle as a way to pay tribute to their late mentor, Dr. Brian Martin Murphy.

  • Dr. Murphy Celebration

    Drs. Mark Barner and Kalen Churcher speak with NU student Matt Riley during the event.

  • Dr. Murphy Celebration

    Alumna Genna Mitchell

  • Dr. Murphy Celebration

    Dr. Mark Barner

Niagara University students, faculty, staff and alumni gathered in the Multi-Purpose Room of the Gallagher Center to honor and celebrate the life of Dr. Brian Murphy on Saturday, Oct. 5.

Dr. Murphy, former chair and associate professor in the communication studies department, passed away unexpectedly in June. Dr. Murphy had been a member of Niagara’s faculty since 1999.

Drs. Kalen Churcher and Mark Barner, Dr. Murphy’s colleagues within the communications department, planned the event to bring Niagara together to remember the longtime professor and what he brought to the NU campus.

“Because Dr. Murphy passed away in the summer, students and colleagues were not in one central place on campus,” Dr. Churcher said. “What we wanted to do as a department was provide friends, colleagues, students and his family an opportunity to celebrate Dr. Murphy’s life. He would not have wanted us to mourn.”

Dr. Murphy taught an array of classes, from Media Investigation to International Communications. He was also an enthusiastic journalist and focused much of his journalism on Africa, primarily South Africa.

Family, friends and students spoke of their experiences with Dr. Murphy, each speaker bringing both tears and smiles to members of the audience. There were also former students and colleagues that could not make the event, but sent messages of memories via email to be spoken about at the celebration.

Vince Schiano, ’13, a former student of Dr. Murphy’s, sent in a message to be read: “There are certain individuals who have a way of putting you in a great mood, even on the worst of days. Then, there are those who are so special that they don’t even have to try; meaning, by merely being themselves and expressing their passion, these types of individuals can brighten the days of anyone they cross paths with. Dr. Murphy was that type of person.”

After numerous speeches, an African drum circle was formed. Students and professors gathered in the circle and learned various African drum beats and played together in unity as a tribute to Dr. Murphy and his love for Africa.

“My hope was that this event could help provide closure to others – mainly students,” said Dr. Churcher. The heartfelt messages they, his family and friends had to offer were beautiful. It was a great opportunity to gather together to remember someone who was special to so many people.”

Article and photos by Chelsea Pelsone, a senior communication studies major at NU.