Eugene F. Murphy P'74, L.H.D. '90
Professor of Modern Languages
September 27, 2002
Professor Eugene F. Murphy was born in Syracuse, New York. He was a 1941 graduate of the University of Toronto, where he was first in his class. He received his Ph.D. from The Johns Hopkins University, where he studied from 1948 until 1954. From 1959 until his retirement in 1985, he was professor and head of the Department of Modern Languages at Hobart and William Smith Colleges.
Professor Murphy served as a naval officer in the Pacific in World War II. He married Professor Emeritus Georgette Marcelle Moraud on October 29,1945 in Houston, Texas. The Murphy family grew to include five children: Maureen DuMont is an English teacher and English department chair at Franklin Academy in Malone, New York. Kathleen Carson is the emergency department manager at Geneva General Hospital. Eugene Murphy is an elementary school teacher in the Penn Yan Central School District. Georgette Schmidt ’74 is a French teacher at Jamesville DeWitt High School in DeWitt, New York. John Murphy is the assistant vice president for student affairs at the University of Albany.
Professor Murphy was well published with articles and reviews in Modern Language Notes, Modern Language Journal, The Explicator, Renaissance, Book Abroad, South Atlantic, Modern Language Association Bulletin, the Torch, The Classical Journal, Angora, and the Classical Outlet, and lectured throughout the United States.
Professor Murphy was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Sigma Iota, and Pi Delta Phi. He was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to France in 1951. He received the Russell Award for Distinguished Teaching at the University of South Carolina in 1959, and in 1980 he was awarded the Faculty Teaching Prize from Hobart and William Smith Colleges. During his citation, the Provost quoted “Professor Murphy viewed teaching as his opportunity to bring people to the beauty that is language. He celebrated language expression in his own modest way, whether it be in the casual expression of his interest in the lives of his students as he engaged each of them informally, or in the orchestration of French from a classroom alive with the music of people.”
In 1967, Dr. Murphy received the Orde des Palmes Académiques, an award from the French government for “Services to the French Culture and for the High quality of French Studies at Hobart and William Smith Colleges.”
In the words of his students, some who utilized the French language in their future vocations and some who only wanted to garner the one foreign language credit they needed, he was the one professor whose 8 o’clock class one eagerly attended on a Saturday morning. He was a delight to listen to in English or in French, and encouraging in a gentle and debonair way. Professor Murphy enabled his students to succeed, taking the time to talk, guide and counsel those aspirants. His classes were enlivened by his delight in words and anecdotes that teased one into further exploration.
Professor Murphy epitomized the value of a small, liberal arts college. He remembered his students, and Professor Murphy is remembered as we pass the room in Smith Hall that was dedicated to him in 1992.