Professor leaves mark on University

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  • Photo: Pat Bourland-Davis

Will Peebles

Kent Murray, a highly-praised Communication Arts professor at Georgia Southern University, died suddenly in his home on June 20, one day after teaching his final classes during A-term.

Murray was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1948. He served in the field of communications during the Vietnam conflict as a D.J. for The Armed Forces Radio Network. His time at Georgia Southern began in 1985- making him the longest employed member of the Communication Arts department besides Department Chair, Pam Bourland-Davis, Ph.D.

Students and faculty in the Communication Arts department have been touched by Murray’s influence for the past 29 years. In 2011, Dr. Bourland-Davis nominated Murray for an College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Award of Distinction in teaching. The followings quotes are from Murray’s former students, and are found in the award nomination document composed by Dr. Bourland-Davis.

“He was very experienced and always had our best interest at heart. He taught us in a very unique way and I was very happy to be a part of his class. He helped me whenever needed it and I always felt welcome in his office. I am very thankful to have gotten the chance to work in his class I learned so much [sic].”

“Working in the studio, it was the first class I felt like I was actually developing future skills. He’s hard on you, but only because he wants you to succeed.”

“He challenged the class to do well and be prepared. Was very helpful when needed, but did not just give out good grades. Studio productions were very fun & helpful.”

“Prof. Murray pushes and challenges students to learn and think critically. He’s not afraid to step on your toes to make you smarter. We need more teachers like this.”

Communication Arts department professor Camille Broadway spoke about her colleague and the impact his death would have on the department:

“It’s one of those things that are harder to replace, in terms of the relationship. We, as professors, know someone else can teach our classes. But the thing you can’t make up for with someone like Murray had been here longer than everybody. He’s our institutional memory. He knows everything and everyone.

He’s been here since ’85, and the department itself has only been around since the 70’s. We’ve had the broadcasting concentration for even less time. Basically, anyone who’s graduated from here in the last 30 years has had Murray at some point.

It takes time for a department to heal from something like that. Someone covers the class, but the relationship is missing, and the role the person played in your life- that’s now empty. It takes awhile to weave things back together, especially with someone like Kent and the huge role he played in the department.

He was a mentor to most of the younger faculty. He was somebody who really tried to help me when I first started here. He didn’t just point me the direction of my classes. He actually helped me find a place in Statesboro to rent. He took an interest in you personally, and tried to help you as best he could.”