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SIU names TCU professor as new dean of the College of Liberal Arts

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Joddy R. Murray

Joddy R. Murray will be the dean of the College of Liberal Arts (COLA) at SIU.

Joddy R. Murray, a professor of rhetoric and new media at Texas Christian University, will be the dean of the College of Liberal Arts (COLA) at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Murray will begin his duties at SIU on July 1.

He has been at TCU since 2007, and he became professor in the university’s AddRan College of Liberal Arts in 2021. He has held previous appointments as assistant professor and associate professor, and chaired several committees within the college while there. His areas of focus are rhetoric and composition, new media and digital humanities, creative writing, and film and visual culture. Murray has chaired the university’s faculty senate since 2021. His TCU experience includes serving as English department chair and director of undergraduate studies.

Joining a ‘rich tradition’

Murray said he is very excited be a part of SIU’s long tradition and mission of “good intellectual work and community engagement.”

SIU and COLA have a “rich tradition of engaging students in the big questions and problems of the day, not just in Illinois but also in the nation and the world,” Murray said.

He explained that liberal arts are particularly suited for “interdisciplinary, collaborative and timely explorations suited to addressing our most pressing issues — from climate change, to inclusivity and equity, to improving and maintaining our democracy.”

Murray is looking forward to coming to SIU. The college “is ready to become one of the most dynamic, innovative and relevant aspects within the SIU experience,” he said.

“From our impact through the core curriculum, to our undergraduate preparedness for the workforce within a creative economy, to the scholarly and creative activity of our graduate programs — COLA aims to excel and benefit the communities around us. The more we work together as faculty, staff and students, the more we’ll make a positive impact in challenging and constantly changing times.”

Academic and administrative experience

Meera Komarraju, SIU’s provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, said people who met with Murray noted his academic and administrative experience.

“Dr. Murray has taught and mentored countless students, and his scholarship and creative work have been published extensively,” she said. “He will play an important role as the university implements its new strategic plan, Imagine 2030, which includes pillars addressing innovation in research and creative activity as well as student engagement and success.”

Murray explained his experiences as a leader in the U.S. Air Force, department chair and faculty senate chair taught him “a great deal about the power of listening and understanding the needs and goals of others.”

“We all have the desire to turn our experiences into powerful levers for change,” he said. “I’m ready to harness my myriad experiences in service to the SIU mission, to ‘create and exchange knowledge to shape future leaders, improve our communities and transform lives.’”

The importance of liberal arts

Liberal arts are “fundamental to a higher education” and “form the basis for all creative problem solving, economic adjustments, improvisation and the full expression of the whole human — not just one particular specialized version of one,” Murray said.

The key is making the value and importance of the liberal arts more understood in the community, among the disciplines and to one another, he said.

“This is the biggest contemporary challenge for the liberal arts, and it is one that we are perfectly capable of meeting,” he said.

Varied background

Murray earned his doctorate in composition and cultural rhetoric from Syracuse University and a Master of Fine Arts with a specialization in poetry from Texas State University, San Marcos. He has a master’s degree in adult education and higher learning from the University of Oklahoma and a Bachelor of Science in English from the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Prior to coming to TCU, Murray’s work included director of the writing center and tutor trainer at Washington State University and as an intelligence officer in the U.S. Air Force, with a final rank of captain.

Murray is author of “Anaphora: Poems,” “Kinematic Rhetoric: Non-discursive, Time-Affect Images in Motion” and “Non-discursive Rhetoric: Image and Affect in Multimodel Composition.”

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