Cheryl Murphy, chair of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction in the College of Education and Health Professions at the University of Arkansas, has been selected as the next vice provost for distance education following an internal search.
She will assume her new role Oct 1. She will replace Don Judges, who will retire as the current vice provost for distance education on Sept. 15.
As vice provost for distance education, Murphy will serve as the chief academic officer of the Global Campus, the university’s division in charge of providing distance education opportunities such as online degrees and continuing education for Arkansans who want further training to meet changing job needs. She will be responsible for providing intellectual and philosophical leadership and strategic direction for the unit.
“Cheryl’s expertise and national leadership in distance education make her a perfect fit to lead the Global Campus,” said Jim Coleman, provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs. “This is a critically important area for the university to propel student success and serve our land-grant mission of providing educational access and improving people’s lives.”
Murphy is a nationally recognized expert in distance education and has worked at the UA for more than 20 years. She has served in her current position since 2017, leading a diverse department of 100 faculty and staff members and 10 academic program areas. As department chair, she expanded the curriculum and instruction department’s online degree offerings, developed external partnerships and maintained an overall annual budget of $16 million supporting all academic degree programs and multiple projects.
“I’m thrilled for the opportunity to serve in this crucial campus role,” Murphy said. “Not only is distance education vital to strengthening the U of A’s reputation nationally and internationally, it can directly support each of the eight guiding priorities in the university’s strategic plan. I’m excited to lead such an integral unit on our campus.”
Her vision for the Global Campus includes exploring innovative opportunities in micro-credentials, development of new workforce partnerships and utilizing emerging technology to enhance and advance existing programming.
Prior to her work as department chair, Murphy served in different education roles at the university, including director of distance education for the College of Education and Health Professions, co-director of the Teaching and Faculty Support Center and program coordinator for educational technology. Additionally, she has served as a team chair and peer reviewer for the Higher Learning Commission since 2007. She holds the title of professor of educational technology and will retain her faculty tenure and rank as vice provost.
Murphy, who grew up in rural West Virginia with limited access to higher education, became passionate about distance education “as a means to provide access and opportunities for all, regardless of location, socioeconomic status, or peoples’ life circumstances.”
“It’s something that I’ve always been drawn to because of my upbringing and the opportunities I was afforded,” she said. “And to be able to lead a unit with such a tremendously talented team and great capacity, infrastructure and capabilities is a unique and exciting opportunity.”
Murphy earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology and master’s and doctoral degrees in educational psychology, all from West Virginia University.