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Seattle University


Leading the Charge

Written by Mike Thee
March 25, 2013

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.

The Commons:  So, Patrick, what's it like to be one of the few male faculty members in the College of Nursing?

Patrick Murphy:  I came to nursing from medicine, where there was nearly gender equity in terms of students and faculty in my graduate program and post-doc training, so it's been a stark contrast to often be the only male in the room. I remember when I applied to SU I had wonderful interviews with the College of Nursing faculty, and as they were wrapping up, they said, "You know, if you came here, you'd be different." But what they meant by that had nothing to do with gender-what they meant was that I was going to be a non-nurse in the College of Nursing. So, to my knowledge, in the college's 75-year history, I'm the only tenured non-RN. With health sciences, that's the broader discipline in which nursing is situated, the movement is toward having faculty with different backgrounds because that's what our students are going to see as professionals-they're going to interact with non-RNs as much as they do with nurses-and so inter-professional education is a big deal for us.

The Commons:  What do you do like to do in your spare time?

Patrick Murphy:  I row with Lake Union crew. There's something very satisfying about doing something mindless for an hour where I'm only focused on following the person in front of me.

The Commons:  How about you, Janet?

Janet Shandley:  I've been in a book club with the same group of women for 16 years-and sometimes we even talk about books! Also, about five years ago, we started an evening Rotary group in Shoreline. The principle behind it was that your family is welcome to come. We wanted to do service together as a family, and so this has been really great. We're a really hands-on club. We don't have much money so mostly we give of our time.

The Commons:  Since you brought up books, what are you reading these days?

Janet Shandley:  Just read The Language of Flowers, which is a novel but it has a whole index in the back about what flowers mean in an old Victorian language.

The Commons:  Patrick?

Patrick Murphy:  I'm reading the fourth book of Harry Potter. My daughter, who's in second grade, has taken to the books so we read them together, then she reads them individually and then we watch the movie together. And my students are really into Harry Potter, too-they grew up with the books, so it helps that I can make a reference to "Dumbledore" in a lecture.

The Commons:  If you could make one wish for Seattle University, what would that be?

Patrick Murphy:  I wish we could offer free tuition for all students.

Janet Shandley:  I would say a $300 million or $350 million endowment. I would just hate to have our aspirations squelched by a lack of wherewithal.

The Commons:  Patrick, what's something about yourself that your colleagues might not know?

Patrick Murphy:  So, in the College of Nursing there's definitely an emphasis on professionalism that we try to model for our students and that extends to not only how we teach, but how we dress. And so it's typical for me for lectures to be appropriately dressed in a jacket and bowtie. But I like nothing more than to be wearing clothes that have a lot of holes in them and flannel. If I had my druthers, that's how I'd lecture every day.

The Commons:  Why a bowtie?

Patrick Murphy:  Bowties actually have a history in healthcare and health sciences.

Janet Shandley:  For use as a tourniquet?  (Laughter)

Patrick Murphy:  No, actually, a necktie was seen as unsanitary because they were standing over patients and so the tie had the potential to become contaminated. So bowties were a much more sanitary way of dressing up.

The Commons:  Janet, returning to what you said earlier about your daughter attending SU, what's that like for you? Do you run into her a lot?

Janet Shandley:  You know, I try to let her set the parameters for that. I let her contact me.

What's really interesting is she went to school in Massachusetts before transferring here and the lessons she learned from being so far away from home-her sensitivity to people who just need to have "mom time." She'll send them home with me for the weekend. Or they just need some time with my dog for some pet therapy. So she's kind of tried to provide for her friends what she didn't have in Massachusetts. So, I've actually seen more of her than I thought I would.

The Commons:  Patrick, as you just mentioned, your own background is outside of nursing, but still you're a male presence in the college-so I'm asking you this as an observer: Do you think the movies "Meet the Parents"/"Meet the Fockers"/etc. (starring Ben Stiller as a male nurse) have had any impact in drawing more men to the nursing profession?

Patrick Murphy: (Laughs) I can't speak to that, but relatedly, I'll tell you my proudest moment feeling like I was fitting in to the college of nursing. A couple years ago, the nursing students put forth a proposal to the faculty requesting that they change the uniforms they wear. It used to be that they'd wear a maroon polo and white pants. White pants may look attractive on some, but not others. The students wanted to wear scrubs, so they wrote what to this day I think was the most comprehensive proposal, explaining the rationale for the switch. They had demographic information, data on trends, statistics of nursing programs around the country. About an hour and a half into the meeting on whether we should allow the students to wear scrubs, someone said, "I don't understand-what's wrong with wearing white pants?" And, with feigned disgust, I replied, "After Labor Day?" And so the discussion closed and the scrubs were voted in. So (laughing) that was my proudest moment.