A 1983 Ferris State University’s Criminal Justice program alumnus will join impending graduates of the College of Education and Human Services Saturday, May 11, as Tim Murphy, the president of Thomson Reuters Special Services LLC, receives an Honorary Doctorate of Public Service during a 12:30 p.m. commencement ceremony.
Murphy said though he is now working in the private sector, his efforts are centered on the betterment of the country and its safety. Thomson Reuters is a key contributor to the federal government’s development of risk strategy, and he is the co-chair of the Domestic Security Alliance Council. Another aspect of public service for Murphy, the former deputy director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, is his contribution as a member of the board of directors for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Murphy said a small portion of these wide-ranging experiences and duties had come to mind as he took up his CJ studies at Ferris.
“The FBI was something that I always wanted to do,” Murphy said. “It took several years to advance from my first experience as a police officer, in Livingston County, but I never gave up on that goal. When I joined the Bureau, I went in with hopes of spending my career as a street agent. It turned out that I received many more opportunities to serve, and learn, to build on my experiences.”
One catalyst for Murphy’s success came about from training he had taken to earn his private pilot’s license, which began at Roben-Hood Airport in Big Rapids.
“The FBI was in need of an agent who could handle surveillance flights. I saw the opportunity and made myself available which saw my role expand to special operations, technical operations, undercover work and surveillance programs,” Murphy said. “I advanced to the Tampa field office, where I entered supervisory duties, starting that a bit later in my career than is typical for the FBI. The attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 came to pass, and significantly impacted our levels of involvement as professionals in national security. After assignments in Cincinnati and Washington, D.C., I advanced to the national headquarters. That led to roles of greater responsibility which included meeting and working with director Robert Mueller.”
Murphy retired from the FBI in September 2011, with more than 23 years of service to the Bureau and more than three years of responsibility in the highest levels of its management as deputy director and associate deputy director. In the Spring 2012, he accepted an offer from Ferris’ CJ program coordinator, Steve Reifert, to return to campus and speak to students.
“That brought about a meeting with Carla Miller, the executive director of The Ferris Foundation, where we discussed the idea of establishing a scholarship endowment,” Murphy said. “I know that my time at Ferris, including the value of the education I received has meant everything to me. The university is very central to who I am. Now that I am a member of The Foundation’s Board of Directors, I feel honored to have this opportunity to see what we can do to support the students and the staff. I look forward to reconnecting Ferris’ leaders across the country, in the effort of nurturing a greater public good.”
Murphy’s commitment to his alma mater includes the Diane and Tim Murphy Family Criminal Justice Scholarship Endowment, which was announced at The Ferris Foundation for Excellence Benefit in Grand Rapids on Nov. 2, 2018. The scholarship gives special consideration to applicants raised in foster care, who have other financial considerations present in their pursuit of higher education.
“I hope that this endowment is seen as a reflection of what I believe Ferris is, and is emblematic of its mission,” Murphy said. “From its beginnings, Ferris has been an institution open to people from all walks of life, in my case, being someone who had a desire to pursue public service, and was able to accomplish that goal. We are pleased to have the Family Futures Scholarship Challenge in place, to increase the support available to students who truly need it.”
Murphy was the first recipient of the university’s “Lead Where You Stand” commendation, in an effort to recognize his achievements, his example to current students and his continuing engagement and support.
Also receiving honorary doctorates at Ferris’ Spring 2019 commencement ceremonies are Teresa Weatherall Neal, superintendent of the Grand Rapids Public Schools and Michael Shibler, superintendent of the Rockford Public Schools.
Approximately 1,900 Ferris students will participate in the Spring 2019 commencement ceremonies on Friday, May 10 and Saturday, May 11 in Big Rapids.