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Press Release for Wednesday, October 31, 2012

UNF Art and Design Chair Receives SECAC Award for Exemplary Achievement

Media Contact: Joanna Norris, Associate Director 

Department of Public Relations 

(904) 620-2102 



Dr. Debra Murphy, chair of the Department of Art and Design at the University of North Florida, received the Exemplary Achievement Award from the Southeastern College Art Conference (SECAC), the organization’s most prestigious award given in recognition of personal/professional development and long-standing service to the organization. She received the award Oct. 19 during SECAC’s annual conference in Durham, N.C. 


  Murphy, a Southside resident, has been the inaugural chair of the Department of Art and Design at UNF since 2004. She has been honored with a Faculty Service award and an award for International Leadership because of her focus on study-abroad activities. She has also received two UNF Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching awards and was recognized as Outstanding Art Educator of the Year by the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville. Murphy has been a member of the board of trustees of the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville, a cultural resource of UNF, since 2000, where she has chaired the collections and exhibition committee and the education committee. She continues to serve on the MOCA executive committee and as a principal liaison between UNF and the museum.  


Murphy concluded a three-year term as SECAC president last fall and previously served as first vice president for four years. She was conference chair of the 2004 annual meeting in Jacksonville and the Florida representative on the board from 2001 to 2004. Under her leadership, conferences and exhibitions have grown and become more professional. A second at-large seat was added to the board and a number of organizations became affiliated with SECAC. Murphy’s positive outlook has ensured that the organization’s reputation as a friendly and collegial organization has grown.  


Her scholarly agenda at UNF includes the study and promotion of important artistic figures, patronage and collections in the North Florida region. She has written and lectured on the patronage of Mrs. Cummer, the Vickers Collection and the work of Helene Baker, Allison Watson, Paul Karabinis, Jay Shoots, Linda Broadfoot and Joseph Jeffers Dodge. 


Murphy’s book “Passion and Clarity: the Art of Joseph Jeffers Dodge” was published by the Cummer Museum of Arts and Gardens in 2002. She has co-authored the catalogue essays for the Art Ventures awards exhibition and wrote an essay “Post Abstract Expressionism in the Haskell Collection” for the exhibition catalogue “Image and Energy.” Murphy earned her doctorate in art history from Boston University, a master’s in art history from Florida State University and a bachelor’s degree in English literature at the University of Florida.  


Founded in 1942, SECAC, is a non-profit organization that promotes the study and practice of the visual arts in higher education on a national basis. SECAC facilitates cooperation and fosters on-going dialog about pertinent creative, scholarly and educational issues among teachers and administrators in universities, colleges, community colleges, professional art schools and museums, as well as among independent artists and scholars. 


UNF, a nationally ranked university located on an environmentally beautiful campus, offers students who are dedicated to enriching the lives of others the opportunity to build their own futures through a well-rounded education.