by Kathleen Dolan
Last fall, an alumna of Chestnut Hill College’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies became the assistant dean of academic affairs at Montgomery County Community College (MCCC).
Kimberly Murphy ’12 SCPS was promoted to her new position at MCCC in Sept. 2019. In her new role, she manages articulation agreements with K-12 and four-year institutions and oversees the school’s online courses and prior learning assessments, the latter of which allow adult learners to earn credits for life experience. She also serves as a leader in the school’s University Center, which provides MCCC students with access to advanced degrees by partnering with four-year academic institutions.
Since she began working at MCCC 11 years ago, Murphy has advanced from administrative assistant to administrative director and ultimately to assistant dean of academic affairs.
Besides her resume and professional experience, Murphy said that her journey might be what best qualifies her for the position.
“Born and raised in Montgomery County, and having attended Montco, I felt that I wanted to give back to the community that I lived in,” she said.
Murphy’s path resembles that of many of the students she supports: transfer and adult learners. After graduating from high school and spending two semesters at MCCC, she opted to work full-time instead of continuing her education. Then, about seven years later, something changed in her mind.
“It just kind of clicked in my head, ‘I want to go back to school,’” she said. “I had a goal, ‘I want to get a degree in elementary education. I am accomplishing that goal.’”
To achieve that goal, Murphy earned her associate’s degree at MCCC and then enrolled, in the summer of 2010, in the Accelerated Adult Degree Program at the College’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies.
“I was really looking for a program where I would be able to work full-time and take classes at night,” she said.
Murphy can relate to the circumstances that often encompass the life of an adult learner: working full-time, balancing several demanding areas of life, attending classes that end at 10 p.m., and experiencing fatigue. Yet she found that the environment at the College helped her overcome these challenges.
“The flexibility, the smaller class sizes, and I made a lot of friends there, and we were able to rely on each other,” she said. “The faculty were always helpful — before class, after class, emailing, phone calls. I had very long days. Professors being so caring motivated me more to not want to give up.”
After earning her bachelor’s degree in elementary education at the College, Murphy earned a master’s degree in business administration at Excelsior College. Now, she is pursuing a doctorate in higher education and leadership at Wilmington University.
“I’m a lifelong learner,” she said. “I think when I finish my doctorate, I’ll still take a class here and there just to stay involved. Being an administrator, I want to know what’s going on in the classroom. It’ll help my job better if I can relate and understand.”
In MCCC’s University Center, Murphy helps lead a program that allows graduates from the school with associate’s degrees to earn advanced degrees on either its Blue Bell or its Pottstown campus. Professors from one of the five partnering four-year institutions, of which the College was one of the first, visit MCCC and instruct courses, allowing students to receive bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees from their institutions.
“We want to meet students where they are,” she said.
This perspective succinctly captures Murphy’s philosophy of education as she continues her work to become a leader who understands and serves all students’ needs.