USC-Aiken's veterans advocate promoted to full-time
Aiken Standard, S.C.
AIKEN, S.C. — Robert Murphy, a part-time staffer at USC Aiken, has been promoted to full-time in his work with veterans and active-duty military personnel.
About 14 months ago, Murphy was preparing for his last semester at USCA – joining other students in a meeting with Chancellor Dr. Sandra Jordan on her first formal day in office.
By December, the 51-year-old Murphy – a retired Marine with 23 years experience – had graduated and was soon hired by the university.
In April, USCA formally opened the Veteran and Military Student Success Center in the Gregg-Graniteville library on campus, directed by Murphy.
“My job is to lead veterans and how they can use their educational benefits and go to the next successful career position,” he said.
“As the outstanding senior graduate and as a Marine, Robert was a good fit for what we wanted,” said Dr. Jeff Priest, the executive vice chancellor for academic affairs. “He has moved to full-time and makes a point to meet the veterans one-on-one. The center at the library is always filled with veterans.”
Murphy works with Belinda Rouse, a staffer who certifies veterans, so they can get their financial aid. He credits the Augusta-Aiken Warrior Project for its assistance in getting the Success Center underway. Murphy continues to work closely with project director Jim Lorraine, supporting the organization as a veterans advocate.
“The thought was that USCA had 50-70 veterans,” Murphy said. “It's more like 200 and their dependents. Aiken is so patriotic. The university and the community have looked at they can best do to support the veterans. I have a lofty goal that I'd like to see 450 to 500 veterans on campus.”
A New York native, Murphy had enrolled at a technical college after high school, only to decide he wasn't disciplined enough then for the academics. He decided to join the Marine Corps to give him a chance to grow up.
His career included a stay of several years in Japan with his wife Lisa and three children. At the time he retired in 2003, Murphy was working on Capitol Hill with a responsibility of protecting lawmakers in conjunction with House and Senate sergeants at arms and the chief of police.
Several years later, Murphy earned an associate degree in liberal arts. Still, as a USCA student in 2012, Murphy worked with a summer orientation program for non-traditional students, including veterans.
“They won't have to relive their 20s,” Murphy said in a 2012 interview. “My theme is really about networking and getting to know one another.”
At that time, he was already interested in helping veterans through the transition. Now in a full-time position, “I'm developing policies and procedures to optimize the educational benefits of veterans,” Murphy said on Monday. “I want to build and retain and graduate our veteran students.”