Nominee for ESF President Is Longtime Syracuse Businessman
SYRACUSE, N.Y. - After a 30-year career with a nationally known engineering firm, Cornelius B. "Neil" Murphy Jr. has emerged as the leading candidate to assume the presidency of the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF).
Chancellor Robert L. King today forwarded Murphy's name to the SUNY Board of Trustees, recommending his appointment.
Murphy is president and director of O'Brien and Gere Limited. The Syracuse-based company is a design, engineering and consulting firm that specializes in environmental remediation.
At O'Brien & Gere, Murphy heads a corporation that employs more than 1,000 people in 29 locations worldwide. At ESF, he is poised to lead a staff of 425 on a campus where approximately 1,800 students are enrolled in degree programs ranging from the associate's degree in applied science to the doctor of philosophy. The college's 12-acre main campus in Syracuse is supplemented by field stations across New York that total more than 25,000 acres.
Murphy's appointment is scheduled to be considered Feb. 29 by the SUNY Board of Trustees and, if approved, would be effective May 15.
In supporting his nomination, the ESF Board of Trustees and the college committee that conducted a yearlong national search for the next president cited Murphy's exceptional leadership and communication skills. Under his direction, O'Brien & Gere grew from a small regional engineering firm to a multifaceted, international corporation.
He would bring to ESF a rich array of expertise in technical areas that reflect the college's focus in research and academic efforts: environmental science and engineering management, hazardous waste management, environmental assessment, limnology, combined sewer overflow planning and industrial wastewater treatment.
Murphy worked his way to the top echelons of O'Brien & Gere's leadership after he joined the company as a lab technician in 1970. He was the first person with a doctoral degree to be hired by O'Brien & Gere. Throughout his career, he held a number of increasingly responsible positions with O'Brien & Gere's subsidiary companies.
Murphy's early work with the company centered around research and development, ultimately leading him to direct the company's activities in that area. In 1982, he became senior vice president of O'Brien & Gere Engineers Inc., and was instrumental in the organization's aggressive entry into the hazardous waste market.
His strong advocacy of blending the scientific and engineering disciplines was critical to O'Brien & Gere's emergence as a leading firm in the management of hazardous waste sites. He was also a driving force in the development of the company's two textbooks on hazardous waste management.
Murphy earned his bachelor's degree in chemistry from St. Michael's College, graduating magna cum laude, in 1966. He earned his Ph.D. in chemistry as a NASA Fellow at Syracuse University in 1970. Murphy has studied at the Syracuse University School of Management, and was a National Science Foundation trainee at Clark University. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science from Clarkson in 1997.
Murphy's professional affiliations include the American Chemical Society, Environmental Chemistry Division; the American Association for the Advancement of Science; the New York Academy of Science; the Water Pollution Control Federation; New York Public Consultation Panel of the International Joint Commission on the Great Lakes "Pollution from Land Use Activities" Reference Group; Mid-Atlantic Industrial Waste Conference; and American Management Association.
Murphy is the author of nearly 50 technical publications and presentations. He has served as an invited lecturer at ESF, Syracuse University and Cornell University. He is a member of ESF's President's Council and the Advisory Board of the SU College of Engineering and Computer Science.
Murphy has been affiliated with a number of civic and community associations, including Success by Six, the Boy Scouts of America Hiawatha Council, the SUNY Health Science Center Foundation and the Metropolitan Development Association Vision 2010 Steering Committee.
Murphy is the father of four children, Tracy, Megan, Maureen and Michael. He and his wife, Joanne, reside in Marcellus.