Who is Billy Bluejay, really?
Well, it kind of depends on the day.
Last spring and again this fall, five Creighton students signed on as Billy, donning his iconic suit of blue feathers and flying back and forth in a flurry of activity.
Though some are more able to give of their time than others, these students have in common a lot of school spirit, readiness to volunteer for Creighton -- and plenty of mascot moxie.
Still, two of the Billy Bluejays who have worked the hardest have stood out -- and they now have scholarships to show for both their enthusiasm and keeping up their grades.
They are Katie Reichert, Omaha, class of 2011, Arts and Sciences, and David Roustio, St. Louis, class of 2012, College of Business.
And they have retired Lt. Col. Michael Murphy, BA'84, to thank.
The story has its beginnings with Murphy's grandfather Joe Murphy, BSC'31, who in 1941 decided that Creighton's mascot needed a pick-me-up.
Prior to Murphy's tenure -- he became Creighton's PR department head as well as a journalism professor -- the Creighton Bluejay looked, well, just like a blue jay, as if he belonged in a Roger Tory Peterson bird guide.
But Joe thought the bird should look a little more like a mascot, and commissioned an artist to come up with something like the feisty, feathered Billy we know today.
In fact, Mike's dad, retired Col. John Murphy, BS'58, remembers Joe saying he "wanted the artist to make Billy look as if he had just eaten something sour."
And now, nearly 70 years later, Mike Murphy's gift to Creighton's "mascot" students is made both in his grandfather's and grandmother's names, in a spirit of warm generosity.
The Joseph P. and M. Kathryn Murphy Endowed Scholarship Fund will grant $1,000 gifts annually to deserving student mascots. The scholarships are renewable, based on the student's academic record and availability of funds. Other donors are welcome, said Director of Philanthropy Chris Bauer.
In addition to school spirit and academic achievement, the undergraduate scholarship fund also rewards high moral character and financial need.
What motivated grandson Mike to make this special gift?
"I had the fortune of knowing my grandparents while growing up and got to spend considerable time with them while I was attending Creighton. They were wonderful people, and I wanted to keep their memories alive by recognizing their contributions to the University."