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Gadsden State’s new president excited about the future

Gadsden, Ala. – Dr. Kathy Murphy continues to be an educational leader and advocate -- only this time, she’s doing it in higher education. The former K-12 administrator became the new president of Gadsden State Community College on Jan. 4. She replaces Dr. Martha Lavender, who retired in August.

“I see coming into the Alabama Community College System as an opportunity to support students in a way I never have during my career,” she said. “How can I best help our students continue their education, whether it’s working on a technical skill or an associate degree or completing pre-requisites for a four-year degree?”

Gadsden State’s first day of the spring semester was Monday with classes being offered in-person, hybrid and online. Murphy said it was a good day at the College.

“I’m so excited about the students starting a new semester,” she said. “Everything we do, we do for them.”

Murphy said two-year colleges are strategically positioned to do well despite the state of the economy and the challenges of a pandemic.

“We really are in a place to support those wanting to come to college to earn a certificate or credential that will better themselves and earn them gainful employment,” she said. “We are able to provide them with a credential for less cost in a short amount of time. This is really a time for two-year colleges to show everything we have to offer, and I want Gadsden State to lead the pack.”

Murphy has had an illustrious career as an educator and leader that has spanned over three decades. Through it all, she said she has remained focused on student growth, academic achievement and college and career readiness.

“I am passionate about supporting others in their respective roles as we – together – identify solutions to the challenges facing K-12 and post-secondary public education,” she said.

Increasing enrollment at Gadsden State is a priority for Murphy and Gadsden State leadership.

“We have a segment of our high school students that we are losing,” she said. “We don’t know where they are going. I want to account for those students. I want them to continue their training and education at Gadsden State.”

She said Gadsden State will appeal to prospective students by serving them well through quality instruction in an innovative, cutting-edge environment.

“We have made improvements to our infrastructure at the college with recent renovation and construction projects but we need to do more,” she said. “We want to provide students with facilities and opportunities that are enticing to them. There are so many possibilities that could include a new student center, a new gymnasium or a new fitness center. We want to give our students a place to belong and facilities they can be proud of. We will give them a positive student experience so that Gadsden State is exciting and pivotal to them.”

Murphy started her career in public education as a junior high physical education teacher in Auburn in 1984. Then, she worked as an assistant professor at Judson College and the University of West Georgia collectively for eight years. She also served as the chair of the Physical Education Department at Judson College.

In 1993, she began her career in public school administration as the principal at Greenville Middle School. She went on to serve as principal at Greenville High School and Charles Henderson High School in Troy as well as an administrator for the superintendent at Butler County Schools.

Eventually she was promoted to superintendent of Monroe County Schools, a position she held for four years. Just prior to taking on the role of Gadsden State’s president, Murphy spent five years as the superintendent of the Hoover City Schools.

A native of Butler County, Murphy attended Troy University, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Education in 1981. From Auburn University, Murphy received a Master of Education in 1982, a Doctor of Education in Program in 1987 and a Master of Education in Educational Leadership in 1994. In 1995, she earned the Educational Specialist Degree in Educational Leadership from AUM.

Murphy has held many leadership roles on committees as well as state and national organizations. For 10 years, she served on the board of directors for the National Beta Club, where she was the first female to serve on the national board and the first female elected as the chairperson. She was appointed to the Governor’s Commission on Physical Fitness as well as to the Governor’s Congress on School Leadership.

She has served on many Alabama State Department of Education Committees, including most recently, the Course of Study Committees for Physical Education and Health Education. In higher education, she served on the Dean’s Education Advisory Councils at Troy University, Judson College and Samford University.

Murphy’s many honors and recognitions include 2019 Outstanding Administrator by the Alabama State Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance; the 2019 District 5 Superintendent of the Year by the School Superintendents of Alabama; the Outstanding Leadership in School and Community Relations Award by the Alabama School Public Relations Association; and the Distinguished Service Outside the Profession Award by the Alabama Art Education Association.

Members of the media who would like to interview Dr. Murphy should contact Jackie Brehm Edmondson, director of public relations and marketing, at 256-549-8224 or 256-312-1523.