Leading the Charge

A conversation with Faculty and Staff Giving Campaign co-chairs Patrick Murphy and Janet Shandley

Story by: Mike Thee
Published: 2013-03-25

Patrick Murphy, associate professor of nursing, and Janet Shandley, director of graduate admissions, are co-chairs of this year's Faculty and Staff Giving Campaign. Murphy arrived at SU seven years ago, having earned his Ph.D. in pharmacology. The native Ohioan also teaches in the biology department, and his research has a biomedical focus.

Shandley started at SU in 1986 as associate director of undergraduate admissions, and moved over to the graduate side in 2000. Among other distinctions, is the first-and still only-person to have successfully rebuffed a "5 Questions with…" interview with The Commons as well as its printed precursor, Broadway & Madison.

The Commons:   So Janet, you eluded an interview for years, but we finally caught up with you!

Janet Shandley:  Yes, clearly I didn't think this through when I agreed to co-chair the campaign. (Laughter)

The Commons:  Let's start there. Why did the two of you agree to serve as co-chairs? Janet, you obviously didn't realize there was an interview involved…

Janet Shandley:  It was a weak moment (laughter). Seriously, though, the campaign wasn't really on my radar screen until it became personal. I have a daughter who is a junior here and has taken full advantage of what we have (as employees) in terms of tuition remission and what a gift that is for her to not have the debt that many of her peers and friends have. It's just an amazing benefit. That was, to me, as good a reason as any to be supportive (of the campaign) and to see what we can do to help other people who face a gap between the cost of attending the university and their ability to pay.

The Commons:  How about you, Patrick-why did you agree to serve in this capacity?

Patrick Murphy:  The university has supported a lot of things that I feel are very important-and particularly the commitment that has been made to health sciences, which has been profound. So for me, serving as co-chair is one way of reciprocating.

The Commons:  So what brought you to SU?

Patrick Murphy:  My wife is a Seattle native, and when I asked for her parents' blessing (to get married), the only question they had was, "Where do you plan on living?" (Laughs) What's made me feel good about staying all these years is the commitment that the faculty and staff have to the mission. That transcends all SU's schools and colleges and really gives you a sense of purpose that builds on our teaching and doing research.

Janet Shandley:  Yes, this is unlike any other place I've ever been. We hear it all the time from external bodies, like accreditation teams-they come in here and say, "Wow, people can cite the mission and its tenets." It makes it easier to do one's job when you believe in the essence of the place. Seattle University isn't just a paycheck to a lot of people. People come here and they stay tied to the institution because of the mission and how we actualize that. That's certainly the case for me. Working here is very much a part of my own system of personal values.

The Commons:  Why should a faculty or staff member support the campaign?

Patrick Murphy:  Our faculty and staff give so much of their time, and that's a very significant but covert form of support. So providing some modicum of financial support is an overt way to show their commitment.

Janet Shandley:  Another thing I've come to understand is that when the university approaches a significant donor, it's important to show a significant level of support from within. So the support faculty and staff provide can have a much larger impact than the gift they provide.

The Commons:  What are your hopes for the 2013 Faculty and Staff Giving Campaign?

Janet Shandley:  I'd like people to see the campaign as something to which they can contribute in their own individual way and to whatever degree they're comfortable. We're not asking for a minimum amount of money-we're just asking them to participate.

Patrick Murphy:  The expression we use in my lab is, "I've upped my standards, so up yours!"  (Laughter) But, being serious, there's something to be said for recognizing that we can have higher expectations.

The Commons:  How did you get into your respective fields?

Janet Shandley:  Family business. I grew up in a college town in Iowa. My mom was director of career services, and I have an older brother who got into student development work and another who's a professor at Texas A&M. As an undergrad, I got involved in student activities and my graduate degree is in student development. So yes, it's the family business.

Patrick Murphy:  For me, it's similar. My mother was an educator and I come from a very Catholic family that emphasized higher education and learning, so the Jesuits were always family favorites. It was a logical progression for me to go from undergraduate studies in the sciences and humanities to graduate school and a post-doc and then to be able to teach and do research at a school that has a commitment to undergraduate education and allows students to do genuine scholarship. I think that involvement by students in research really separates SU from a lot of schools of a similar size.

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