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Press Release for Tuesday, November 17, 2015

UNF Department of Art and Design Chair Receives SECAC Award

Media Contact: Andrea Mestdagh, Specialist

Department of Public Relations

(904) 620-2192


Dr. Debra Murphy, chair of the University of North Florida’s Department of Art and Design and professor of art history, was recently awarded the Southeastern College Art Conference (SECAC) Award for Excellence in Teaching which recognizes outstanding teaching by a SECAC member who demonstrates an exceptional command of his/her discipline through the ability to teach effectively, impart knowledge and inspire students.


Murphy, a Southside resident, became the inaugural chair of the then newly formed UNF Department of Art and Design in 2004. She teaches a course each semester and has taught ancient Roman art and architecture, Italian renaissance art, baroque art, Michelangelo, and art history on site in Italy. In 2009, she founded UNF’s Italy Summer Program, a six-week program for students to study abroad.


Murphy has been recognized numerous times by UNF for her work, receiving awards for outstanding faculty service, outstanding international leadership and outstanding undergraduate teaching, an honor she earned twice. Additionally, the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville honored her an outstanding art educator.  


She served on the board of directors for SECAC and was also the organization’s first vice president and president. In 2012, she received the groups Award for Exemplary Achievement in recognition of personal and professional development, as well as long-standing service to the organization.


Murphy received a doctorate in art history from Boston University and she earned a master’s degree in art history from Florida State University, where she studied at the University’s Florence, Italy, campus. She also taught at its Florence program.


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 between faculty and administrators in universities, colleges, community colleges, professional art schools and museums.


The mission of the Department of Art and Design at UNF is to provide outstanding undergraduate teaching in the disciplines of studio arts, photography, graphic design and digital media and art history as well as to instill creative, analytical, applied and theoretical skills while providing opportunities for transformational experiences.


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.