A longtime member of the Orange community, Diane Lyden Murphy ’67, G’76, G’78, G’83, dean of the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics, has had an impactful, accomplished career at Syracuse University—as a student, faculty member and academic leader. Today, Murphy announced her plans to conclude her tenure as dean at the end of the academic year in 2023. A search for her successor will begin in January 2023.
“Diane has been a force of nature at Syracuse University since she arrived on campus nearly 60 years ago,” says Chancellor Kent Syverud. “She’s an innovator who inspires and engages others in transformational initiatives. Through her work in sexual and relationship violence, gender equality, diversity, inclusion and accessibility, Diane has both enhanced the student experience and helped our Orange community become a more welcoming place for students, staff and faculty.”
“In the years I’ve been at Syracuse University, I’ve been incredibly impressed with Diane’s work,” says Vice Chancellor, Provost and Chief Academic Officer Gretchen Ritter. “As a fierce advocate for her college and some of the University’s most important initiatives, she has an extraordinary ability to communicate with and engage others in what is truly important to the University experience. She is highly respected and for good reason because she is a person of high integrity.”
Murphy says serving her alma mater all these years, especially in her most recent role as Falk College dean, has been the honor of a lifetime.
“It has been an extraordinary privilege to be able to integrate my life’s work and focus as an activist scholar, social worker and social policy faculty with a career that articulates this effort in many ways over the years,” Murphy says. “I have built a cherished network of friends and colleagues that focus on matters of social justice and progressive peace work for both the community and the university, and together we have moved these communities forward.”
Appointed as dean of the College of Human Services and Health Professions in 2005, Murphy expanded that college with the Department of Sport Management to create the David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics in 2011. Murphy led a successful effort to integrate these disparate but complimentary curricula into one college, which moved into the White Hall-McNaughton Hall complex in 2015, physically bringing their departments together for the first time.
In addition to forging and shaping the Falk College, Murphy established a college Research Center and launched new undergraduate majors and minors, and several graduate programs. Her commitment to global education has resulted in study abroad opportunities throughout the Falk College. Her dedication to accessibility and global outreach led to groundbreaking new online programs, including online graduate programs in social work and marriage and family therapy. She helped create the food studies and sport management majors; launched the nation’s first bachelor’s degree in sport analytics; and integrated the Department of Exercise Science into the college. Murphy also led the creation of Falk’s Department of Public Health, and spearheaded collaborations with other colleges, including the School of Education, the College of Law and the Martin J. Whitman School of Management.
Mission-driven and passionate about issues of equality, diversity, inclusion and accessibility, Murphy believes that progress results from collective wisdom and collective action.
“We’ve learned a lot from the Haudenosaunee women, the Native women who have always led and been a very important voice, but their men lead with them,” says Murphy. “It’s about empowering people, getting people to the table, because collective voices make the best decisions. You need to have people who have different life experiences because they will think about things you wouldn’t have thought about.”
Murphy applied this passion to several critical leadership roles on campus. In August of 2021, she was one of a three-person interim leadership team appointed by Chancellor Syverud to advance the University’s diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility (DEIA) priorities and strategic planning efforts. Murphy also serves as co-chair of the Chancellor’s Task Force on Sexual and Relationship Violence, a role she’s held since 2017. And, during former Chancellor Kenneth A. Shaw’s tenure, she served as a consultant to him on women’s issues while director of women’s studies. In that role she co-founded the University Senate Committee on Women’s Issues while also co-writing the University’s first Sexual Harassment Policy, Domestic Partnership Policies, Adoption Policies and Gender Equity Studies with the goal of elevating Syracuse’s commitment to a family friendly environment.
Murphy is a four-time Orange alumna. She earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology, a master of social work degree, a master’s degree in social science and a Ph.D. in interdisciplinary social science, all from Syracuse University. She became a member of the University’s social work faculty in 1978 and also served as director of the women’s studies program in the College of Arts and Sciences from 1989-2005, where it became a department with tenured faculty scholars and built the first B.A. and certificate in women’s studies at Syracuse University. She has also served as an elected faculty member of the Syracuse University Senate since 1980.