Lisa Murray’s spirit of caring gains her award

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Carl Vincent Carallas / Staff Photo
Lisa Murray seizes opportunities to help and to educate her students.

Advisor, bridge builder, advocate, coach these are words used to describe Lisa Murray, the 2019 recipient of the Faculty Achievement Award.

Tony Nguyen is a returning student, this time to pursue a degree in physical therapy. He had Murray as an instructor in 2016 and 2017, and remembers her as a strong influence for learning, not just for career goals, but also for life skills.

“I don’t think she teaches you like a professor, but she coaches you and sets you up for life too. She gives very good advice, and I learned from her that you need to have confidence. In whatever you do, you gotta have that confidence in you and go for it. Because there’s going to be background noise telling you to do this or do that, but you should know what’s best for you and to go for it. That’s what I learned from her,” Nguyen said.

The Faculty Achievement Award was created in 1987 as a result of grant money from Puget Sound Energy and a partnership with the Pierce College Foundation. All faculty and administration staff pick a faculty member who has proven high educational principles, fully involved in scholastic and community activities, and creates curriculum that is engaging and relevant. The $1,000 award is a nice bonus.

Kinesiology, one of Murray’s disciplines that she teaches, is defined as “addressing the physiological, biochemical and psychological dynamic principles and mechanisms of movement.” It also portrays how she connects to her students. 

“I have dabbled my entire career in all areas of having a degree in Kinesiology. I’ve coached, worked in physical therapy,  worked in cardiac rehab,  done consulting,  done health and fitness assessment,  been a personal trainer. I had fun, it served me well,” Murray said.

If there is a committee or team on campus that is devoted to student success, chances are high that she is on it. She serves on the Learning Council, is a member of the Pierce College Outcomes Team, and is the district coordinator for the Pierce physical education and nutrition courses.

Professor Murray is one of the most passionate faculty members I have known… she works to find solutions when issues arise,”

— Ron May, Dean of Health and Technology

Debra Gilchrist has been impressed by Murray’s tireless dedication to curriculum standards. “In her first year, she took the lead within the department to evaluate each course and assure alignment of course outcomes with the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) standards. This work and the work with her advisory committee has led to strong, rigorous courses based on nationally recognized standards and industry needs,” Gilchrist said. 

 One of Murray’s latest projects highlights her creativity in getting her students connected to practical hands-on experience. She designed a novel approach with the dental hygiene department. Her students would work with the dental hygiene students to help them form healthy habits in their work place.

Ron May is the Dean of Health and Technology and Murray’s supervisor. Her energy in the classroom and tireless focus on finding solutions is inspiring. 

“Professor Murray is one of the most passionate faculty members I have known.  She brings her limitless energy and innovation to her instruction.  Professor Murray is easy to work with and she works to find solutions when issues arise,” May said.

Murray encourages team-work in her projects, “I’m only as good as I can be with the people around me. So many people have taught me things that I would have never known, if it weren’t for them,” she said.

Her efforts made her the perfect choice to be the faculty representative to the first AACC national Guided Pathways held in Washington, D.C. Upon her return, she put together meetings to share what she learned. “She wanted her colleagues to be engaged and help determine the best way forward. Her efforts widened the net of interest and involvement as her enthusiasm for the project was contagious,” Gilchrist said. 

 Murray gracefully accepted the award. “I don’t have a lot of words to describe it. It’s just a huge honor. I’m very, very grateful. It doesn’t change the way I go about doing what I do. It just inspires me to continue doing what I’m doing,” Murray said.