University Community Mourns Loss of Dr. Brian Murphy

June 18, 2013  |  by Michael Freedman

Dr. Brian Murphy

Dr. Brian Murphy passed away passed away last weekend at his home in St. Catherines, Ontario. (Photo courtesy of Niagara Index)

Dr. Brian Martin Murphy, the chair and associate professor in the communication studies department at Niagara University, has passed away unexpectedly of natural causes. Dr. Murphy had been a member of Niagara’s faculty since 1999.

As an associate professor, Dr. Murphy taught courses in the art and history of film, media programming and management, investigation and reporting, and media history.

In addition to his work in the classroom, Dr. Murphy was the moderator of the communication department’s newsletter and honor society, Lambda Pi Eta (LPH), and served on the university senate and various committees.

Dr. Murphy came to Niagara University after a 25-year career in the global media industries, focusing on social justice. He worked in Britain as a newspaper reporter, production editor, magazine feature writer/editor, and international affairs investigator, winning national awards for newspaper design and research into new communication technologies. He also worked for a number of years in Africa as a radio producer and freelance writer, and was published in a number of magazines, including New African Business and Africa Now.

Dr. Murphy was a co-founder and co-editor of one of the United States’ first Internet-based social justice news services (PeaceNet Headlines). He managed media research and did script consulting for the educational video documentary production company Media Education Foundation.

Dr. Murphy received his B.A in history from Concordia University, Montreal, and a master’s degree in journalism from Carleton University, Ottawa. His Ph.D. in communication was awarded by the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Information on funeral services for Dr. Murphy will be communicated as they become available.

Within moments of hearing the news of Dr. Murphy’s passing, his colleagues and present and former students began posting messages on social networking websites.

“We all loved Brian, and all that he brought to our students, our university, and each of us as colleagues,” wrote Dr. Doug Tewksbury. “He was always incredibly proud of all of his students, particularly those who went on to work to make the world a better place. For now, I think it’s worth remembering the lives that Dr. Murphy touched, his dedication to social justice and doing what was right, and the joy that he brought to the lives of everyone he encountered.”

“Today marked a day of sadness for so many who lost a friend, loved one, colleague and mentor in Brian Martin Murphy,” penned Dr. Kalen Churcher. “The best way to remember “Murph” would be to continue his work in social justice. He was, and always will be, proud of you.”

“Dr. Murphy, I am forever grateful to you for everything you have done for me,” wrote 2013 Niagara University graduate Stacey Czerwinski. “You were behind every pivotal achievement in my academic career at Niagara, and provided me with support when I needed it most. I will miss your smile, your listening ear, and your kind words. Paths that cross, will cross again. Until we meet again, I will work to make you proud. Forever your impression will remain on my heart. May God hold you in the palm of His hand.”

Added classmate Vince Schiano, “To one of the most brilliant men I’ve ever met in my life; a professor that focused on the students first, both in and outside of the classroom; an individual who wanted nothing more than for his students to succeed: Rest in peace, Dr. Brian Martin “Murph” Murphy. Today, the world lost an incredibly inspiring individual.”

  • Lee Andress

    I need everyone to go to youtube or whatever and listen to Bob Marley & the Wailers “Natural Mystic”. It was one of his favorite songs. He also loved Sierra Leone Refugee All-Stars.
    As an educator, he broke down so many barriers for me, especially when concerning Africa as well as the true meaning of humility. Plus all the stories he told of being in the field, like hitching plane rides with cash in hand on the runway!
    I feel forever indebted to Murph because he seemed to see that there was more to my research, no matter the class or topic, and he always found the perfect questions in order for you to have the “ah-ha!” moment yourself. He said things to me I’ll never forget, things which later became my goals. How do you thank a person like this?
    “If you listen carefully now you will hear…”

  • Vincent Mosco

    If you are a student or someone just wondering what to do with your life, I can offer no better advice than to make Brian Murphy your role model. He combined a commitment to social justice with a genuine curiosity about the world and topped it all off with a love for people in all their diversity. Brian will be missed but will live on in the lives of the many people he touched.

  • Pat Mazepa

    As I sit here, tears streaming onto the keyboard, I can see Brian
    on the other side of the table, telling me not to worry, that everything will turn
    out well in the end. He then cups his hands over mine, smiles and cries with me
    in full support. Brian, you are such a good friend and colleague that you can
    sympathize, empathize, and leave me feeling good about myself and the world by
    telling me a story about your amazing experiences, giving me inspirations for
    the future with such energy and aplomb that I cannot be anything than hopeful. I
    shall miss your ability to thoughtfully consider, evaluate, criticize and optimize
    the intricacies of the personal and the political economic. A truly organic
    intellectual, an honest and kind man, your spirit will remain as energy forever
    within me, and, if I may say so, with the UDC. I was privileged to be your
    friend and honored to be your colleague.
    In solidarity, Pat.

  • Eileen R. Meehan

    Brian Murphy was a role model for anyone committed to critical thinking, outstanding scholarship, and social justice. His memory will be cherished and he will be sorely missed.

  • Jeanne Laurel

    Brian always had a twinkle in his eye and a determination for right livelihood in his soul, even when he was up to his ears in paperwork and purple tape. I will miss my colleague enormously.

  • Evan Evans

    Dr. Murphy was definitely a student favorite. He always made time for his students and showed compassion in his teaching. A great loss in the education community, but also a great inspiration. He will be missed.

  • Randy Nichols

    Brian was an amazing colleague and an excellent friend. Thanks to him I saw my first hockey games- I can remember how proud he was of helping me to understand and enjoy the game. His dedication to and joy in his students was infectious. I looked forward to seeing him whenever I got the chance just so we could spend the time talking about what everyone was up to and bouncing ideas for research topics off of each other. I don’t think I ever saw him less than happy. He always had a story and always wanted to hear yours. As I miss him, I can only hope in some small ways I can emulate him. Safe travels, Brian.

  • Britt

    Dr. Murphy was a one of a kind professor. He found creative ways to teach and made sure his students left his courses with more experience in the communications field. I enjoyed being one of his students and will miss him!