Jan. 27, 2020 Provost

Jan. 27, 2020

Presidential message

It is with deep gratitude for his commitment and outstanding service to Creighton University that I announce today that Provost Tom Murray, PhD, recently shared with me his decision to retire from the University.

I am thankful that Tom has offered to stay on as we search to appoint a new provost, after which time he will retire from the post. His thoughtful advice and guidance will be important as we move forward.

Information regarding the formation of a search committee for the next provost will be forthcoming. I have asked the Rev. Nicholas Santos, SJ, rector of the Creighton Jesuit community and an associate professor of marketing in the Heider College of Business, to be a member of that committee, and I have engaged the executive search firm of Isaacson, Miller to assist with this important process.

Dr. Murray was first named provost on an interim basis on July 1, 2016, and, following a nationwide search, was selected for the permanent appointment on May 1, 2017. As the University’s chief academic officer, he has played a significant role in the academic operations and overall advancement of Creighton University.

I have personally appreciated Tom’s deep understanding of our institutional complexity and Jesuit, Catholic identity, and his ability to both complement and challenge me and other campus leaders in reflecting upon and addressing a range of issues.

During his tenure as provost, Tom was instrumental in the development of the Creighton 150: Lighting the Way strategic plan, and its current implementation. He served on the President’s Planning Committee, a number of individual goal committees, the Faculty Advisory Group for Strategic Planning, and strategic objective task force teams.

In addition, he has been part of the leadership team that has significantly moved forward Creighton’s health sciences presence in Arizona, with the development of the Creighton University Health Sciences – Phoenix Campus and the establishment of the Creighton University Arizona Health Education Alliance, with strategic partners Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, Valleywise Health, and District Medical Group Inc.

The Phoenix campus, which will open in 2021, will serve nearly 900 students – future physicians, nurses, occupational therapists, physical therapists, pharmacists, and physician assistants – in a state-of-the-art facility at Park Central. The campus meets an urgent demand for health care professionals in the region.

Tom continues to provide his leadership in identifying and forwarding opportunities for partnerships and collaboration in Phoenix, and we hope to share more on that front in the near future.

A spirit of collaboration and innovation extends across Tom’s distinguished 39 years in academe and his 14 years in teaching and academic administration at Creighton, which began in 2006 when he was named chair of the Department of Pharmacology in the School of Medicine. He would also hold the titles of associate dean for research in the School of Medicine, associate vice president for Health Sciences Research, and associate vice provost for Research and Scholarship. The latter post he would fold into his responsibilities as provost.

An accomplished researcher, with more than 190 refereed publications in the areas of signal transduction and neuropharmacology, Tom worked diligently to strengthen the University’s research profile.

The results include a stunning 64% increase in National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding over the past two years and the successful renewal of $7.8 million in funding from the Nebraska Cancer and Smoking Disease Research Program to support associated research at Creighton.

Notably, through his oversight of the Dr. George F. Haddix President’s Faculty Research Fund, the program’s $800,000 in seed funding, primarily for new investigators, blossomed into $8 million in additional extramural funding for these researchers.

His support of the Bachelor of Science in neuroscience program, which will graduate its fourth class in May, helped open a new avenue of undergraduate study at Creighton. Students in the program engage in hands-on research guided by faculty experts from the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Medicine, and the School of Pharmacy and Health Professions.

A visionary administrator, Tom expanded the use of the Provost Data Management System for greater data-driven decision-making around programs and hiring; sought efficiencies by merging two offices into the Teaching and Learning Center; elevated the roles of department chairs in the College of Arts and Sciences; and created an Academic Planning Group and a task force on Student Success and Retention.

He also laid the groundwork for the University’s future success with the recruitment and appointment of campus leaders: Christopher Whitt, PhD, inaugural vice provost for Institutional Diversity and Inclusion; Joshua Fershée, dean of the School of Law; Evan Robinson, RPh, PhD, dean of the School of Pharmacy and Health Professions; and Catherine Todero, PhD, BSN’72, dean of the College of Nursing, appointed to vice provost of Creighton Health Sciences Campuses.

After he retires as provost, Tom will work part time in his lab in the School of Medicine for a year, completing NIH-funded research in neuropharmacology. Details of a campus retirement celebration will be announced at a later date.

In the meantime, please join me in thanking Dr. Tom Murray for his service as provost and his work as a teacher, researcher, and administrator at Creighton. I look forward to continuing to work with him as we search for a new provost.


Rev. Daniel S. Hendrickson, SJ, PhD