Beth Ann Murphy does not wait for opportunity to knock—a proactivity that served her well during a quarter-century career at Merck & Co., and which has been invaluable for Rutgers Professional Science Master’s (PSM) program, where, in less than two years' time, Murphy, assistant professor of professional practice and MBS Life Sciences Concentration coordinator, revamped the ethics class, established a virtual Personal Care Science chemistry lab in the very early days of COVID-19, co-created and coordinated the program’s first-ever personal care science symposium, which took place over two days in October 2021, and streamlined the many administrative processes that are part of any organization.
On May 4, 2022, Murphy was honored for another huge achievement: graduating from Rutgers Leadership Academy (RLA), a highly selective program that is “designed for mid-career faculty and staff with an interest in learning more about the core concepts, competencies, and tools associated with leadership in higher education.”
Seeing the call for applications last summer, “I wanted to increase my visibility at Rutgers,” says Murphy, “but I also wanted a chance to network with my peers, and I looked at this as a good opportunity.” PSM executive director Deborah Silver supported Murphy and nominated her for the RLA., for which she was ultimately selected—joining 44 colleagues from across the university to become part of the 2021-2022 RLA Cohort.
Throughout the year, says Murphy, “you’re learning about how to make more of an impact as a leader at Rutgers from current or past leaders at Rutgers, who present and lead discussions focused on different perspectives on leadership as well as different aspects of Rutgers.” However, it is the capstone project that is the crowning achievement for RLA participants.
“A couple weeks into the program, we were presented with different capstone projects that were sponsored by different leaders in the university,” says Murphy. “Since a large majority of MBS instructors are part-time and not tenure track, I selected the project entitled ‘New Brunswick Non-Tenure Track Faculty Professional Leadership Development Benchmarking.’ because I wanted to play an active role in supporting MBS instructors and their professional development.”
Part of the project research, says Murphy, involved surveying the leadership and career development opportunities available to non-tenure track and part-time faculty at peer institutions across the northeast region, including the University of Connecticut, City University of New York, and New York University
The program concludes with the capstone presentation ceremony, during which Murphy’s team—along with all 2021-2022 RLA Cohort teams—was honored. The ceremony was especially meaningful, said Murphy, because it was the first time that she and her teammates were able to meet each other in person. “I did increase my visibility thorough RLA,” says Murphy. “I was able to network with peers during a time when it was really hard to keep networking.”
The biggest asset and most valuable takeaway by far, says Murphy, is the leadership knowledge she gained throughout the year, particularly the knowledge she gained during her capstone project, since it’s information that she can immediately and directly apply through her academic role. “I rely on my part-time faculty and want to make sure that we do everything we can for their professional development,” says Murphy, “to make them feel included in the Rutgers academic community as well. I hope that I can now play an active role in promoting and nurturing the non-tenure track and part-time faculty upon which our program relies.”