Coming to Purdue in 1999 and barely seeing any of the 38,000 students who looked like her was shocking, Stacia Murphy said in her finalist presentation Friday morning to become the next director of the Black Cultural Center. She said she couldn’t remember faces like hers during her lectures of 400 to 500 students.
But when she changed her major from biology to psychology, she met a friend who showed her the BCC.
“I was very lonely when I got here…but the BCC (became) an extended family,” she said. “It was fantastic.”
Building stronger connections in the Black and Brown community was the key point during Murphy’s presentation.
Murphy is the third and final candidate to give a presentation after Richard Brown, director of diversity initiatives at Indiana University School of Medicine and the original third candidate, was disregarded last week.
Murphy received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Purdue in 2003. She is a PhD student in American Studies at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, where she also received her master’s degree in sociology. She currently works for the Indy Chamber as director of equity, outreach and strategic partnerships.
Murphy began her presentation by asking the crowd in a word or two what the BCC meant to them.
“Extended family,” said one person. “Huge resource,” was another reply. “Fantastic,” was the third.
Murphy said all those answers matched her experience.
Murphy spoke about how the BCC could be a bridge to the Greater Lafayette community. By connecting students with the black community in Lafayette and West Lafayette, Murphy hopes the BCC can build connections that will preserve the black community that visits Purdue.
Murphy said that while more black students have come to Purdue, the university has struggled to retain those students over time.
“The percentage of black students hasn’t changed much since I got here,” she said.
Murphy also spoke about how art can be a source of creativity, innovation and even entrepreneurship. Many black people want to become entrepreneurs and the BCC could help.
After her time was up for her presentation, questions were asked to the audience.
An audience member asked what a good collaboration means to her and how she builds it up.
Murphy said she is looking for cooperation and mutual benefit. Not every relationship is the same, so she looks for places where both parties can grow and benefit from the collaboration.
Another faculty member turned the conversation to Purdue graduate students and asked how Murphy would help the graduate population by becoming director of the BCC.
Murphy said graduate students are very isolated compared to college students, and they don’t have as many connections. The BCC could act as a source of those connections, and as its director, her job would be to build those connections for everyone, including graduate students.
Murphy said she would spend the early part of her time as principal listening to students and gaining a better understanding of the perception of the BCC and the role it currently plays in students’ lives.
This, she said, would put her in a better position to take a more active role in building connections and making progress where her Black experience was lacking while at Purdue.