Faculty of Education Professor Sharon Murphy receives title of University Professor 

A drone image of Vari Hall on the Keele campus

York University will honour Faculty of Education Professor Sharon Murphy for her outstanding research contributions to the University with a 2022 University Professorship. It will be recognized and celebrated during Spring Convocation.

A University Professor is a member of faculty recognized for extraordinary participation and contribution to university life, as well as scholarship and teaching success. The award is conferred upon long-serving tenured faculty members who have made extraordinary contributions to the University as colleagues, teachers and scholars.

Sharon Murphy
Sharon Murphy

Such achievement fulfills the following requirements: significant long-term contribution to the development or growth of the University or of its parts; significant participation in the collegium through mentorship, service and/or governance; sustained impact over time on the University’s teaching mission; and recognition as a scholar.

Murphy, who currently serves as associate dean, academic in the Faculty of Education, is an esteemed scholar and educator in early childhood language and literacy studies, in learning assessment and in the role of play and creativity in learning and child development. 

“Among the highest lifetime honours a university can bestow on faculty, the University Professorship is awarded to Sharon Murphy to recognize her extraordinary contributions to York and to the communities we serve,” says Rhonda L. Lenton, York University president and vice-chancellor. “A truly outstanding scholar with significant research impact and a devoted academic leader, Sharon’s many achievements and unfailing allegiance to York’s core social justice values – as well as her tireless work to prepare the next generation of Faculty of Education students – is a deep inspiration to all. Sharon is simply the best of us, and this honour is so richly deserved.” 

Murphy joined York University in 1988 after a career in education in Newfoundland and Labrador. During her time at York, she has held several leadership roles including: director of the Graduate Program in Education; associate dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies; undergraduate program director. She has also served as a coordinator for two graduate diplomas, and in 2020, stepped into the role of interim dean of the Faculty of Education during a challenging time in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Many of her contributions to the Faculty of Education revolve around her scholarly interests, including: the development of courses at the graduate and undergraduate levels; the development of graduate diplomas in early childhood education and in language and literacy; supervision of a significant number of graduate students; and a long history of active participation and leadership in local, national and international scholarly associations. 

As graduate program director, she participated on several committees to establish the Faculty of Education Doctoral Program and played an essential role in growing the program by expanding course offerings and diversifying the Faculty’s Summer Institute. She also co-developed the first Type 2 and 4 graduate diplomas offered at York, and is renowned for her work in co-developing and coordinating diplomas in early childhood education and language literacy. She supported the development of the first Graduate Students’ Guidebook for faculty and students, which continues to serve as the roadmap for students on their journey through their degrees. 

As well, at the completion of her term as graduate program director, she served as associate dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies where she turned her attention to the renewal of collegial governance structures and worked with graduate program directors, program staff and graduate students to come up with processes and procedures that ensure fairness, accountability, transparency and continuity. 

“As I have served the University in different capacities over the years, the thing that I have learned is how complex our institution is and how motivated staff and faculty are to have the lives we live here exemplify our motto – Tentanda via – the way must be tried – which is a wonderful testament to us all,” said Murphy. 

Her strategic leadership has greatly benefitted the York University community; Murphy has actioned several initiatives that align with York’s commitments to decolonization in education, equity, diversity and inclusion. She led the intensification and expansion of hiring Indigenous faculty, and also appointed a special advisor on anti-Black racism and inclusion. 

She is described by her nominators as an unfailing, trustworthy, and deeply fair leader who puts the University, and the Faculty of Education, first.