Stan Richards School crowdfunds money for new John Murphy scholarship

Raga Justin

Earlier this month, the Stan Richards School of Advertising and Public Relations started raising money for the new John Murphy Endowed Scholarship in an unusual way: crowdfunding.

The endowment for advertising and public relations seniors honors advertising professor emeritus John Murphy’s 42 years of teaching, during which time he interacted with an estimated 27,000 students, according to the HornRaiser site where the scholarship donation page is located.

“I was their mentor, their teacher, their friend at a very interesting point in their development,” Murphy said. “They brought enthusiasm and the interest that was fun to be around. I’d like to think most of them had a reasonably positive encounter with me.”

A committee will award the scholarship during the upcoming academic year to multiple rising seniors in the school. Those selected, and the amount given, will vary each year.

According to the HornRaiser page, more than $50,000 has been raised by 30 donors, and crowdfunding will end Nov. 3. The site does not mention a specific monetary goal. The focus is on reaching as many donors as possible.

“The initial target is $100,000, and I think we have the possibility to raise more than that,” Murphy said.

Most donors are former students of Murphy’s, including Guy Lay, president and CEO of GRP Media in Chicago. Lay contributed $45,000 to the endowment.

“It was the sheer force of Dr. Murphy’s personality that made the greatest impact,” Lay said on the HornRaiser site. “He simply made me think and grind harder than I ever had before.”

Murphy was inducted into the American Advertising Federation Southwest Division Hall of Fame last April, the most recent of 19 teaching awards received throughout his years of teaching.

“The key to teaching is about the relationships and the guidance that you were able to provide,” Murphy said.

Advertising freshman Faith Blankenship said professors like Murphy are vital because they help to produce successful students.

“It’s important that you have professors that are passionate and know a lot about what they do … especially at UT,”  Blankenship said. “This definitely immortalizes him and the contributions he made in a way that directly impacts students.”

The scholarship is a fitting tribute for professor Murphy, said Laura McKnight, assistant director of development for the Moody College of Communication.

“It carries on his name and his legacy,” McKnight said. “I think he really helped students, mentored them, pushed them, made them think outside the box.”