Death of former UCD president, aged 81

 

THE death has taken place of Dr Thomas Murphy, a former president of University College Dublin, aged 81. Dr Murphy played a dominant role in the expansion and consolidation of the university's Belfield campus, as registrar from 1964 and as president from 1972-85.

Dr Murphy was born in Bunclody, Co Wexford, and studied at Clongowes and UCD. He graduated in medicine with firstclass honours in 1939, and worked as a junior hospital doctor, medical officer for Bord na Mona, assistant medical officer for Co Kildare and for the Department of Health.

In 1955 he was appointed to the new UCD post of professor of social and preventive medicine. In 1962 he became dean of the faculty of medicine.

As registrar, he was closely involved in the establishment of staff student committees after the 1969 `Gentle Revolution.' He was unusual in disagreeing with many of his colleagues who opposed Donogh O'Malley's proposal to merge UCD and TCD.

In 1972, Dr Murphy became the first president to administer UCD from the new Belfield campus. An important feature of his presidency was the increased democratisation of decision making within the college with greater participation by the academic staff. He had a reputation as a shrewd negotiator who successfully secured the necessary capital resources for the rapidly expanding university.

During his presidency, buildings which were completed at Belfield included the agriculture faculty, the sports centre, the computer science department, the student centre, the university industry centre and the second stage of the library.

He was a founding member of the Higher Education Authority, a member of the General Medical Council in London, a vice president of the Institute for Public Administration, a chairman of the MedicoSocial Research Board and a founder of the Committee of Heads of Universities.

Dr Murphy retired in November 1985 on his 70th birthday. He is survived by his wife Rosaline, and four sons. In a tribute last night, UCD president Dr Art Cosgrove said those close to him "had cause to admire his incisive and formidable intellect, qualities which served him well".