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Esteemed historian dies; UC San Diego honors alumnus

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Murphy

University of California San Diego Honors Donald Murphy

The University of California San Diego will honor Donald Murphy, CEO of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, with its Outstanding Alumnus award, next week.

The award recognizes distinguished alumni who’ve made an impact in their community or significant career achievements.

“It was really a surprise, and I consider it a real honor,” Murphy says. “I was surprised the university knew about my achievements, and it’s recognition of what I’ve been able to accomplish over the course of my career.”

Murphy graduated from the UCSD in 1975 with a bachelors of art degree in biology.

“Don Murphy is a visionary leader and steward whose relentless dedication to truth is teaching generations the meaning of freedom,” said Armin Afsahi, assistant vice chancellor for alumni affairs and executive director of the UCSD Alumni Association.

Murphy’s responsibilities at the Cincinnati-based National Underground Railroad Freedom Cente include managing a $7 million budget and securing funding for the exhibits, which pay homage to enslaved Africans in early America as well as black and white abolitionists. The center features stories about freedom fighters, from the era of the Underground Railroad to contemporary times.

Murphy previously worked at California State Parks, where he spent six years directing the statewide system. After creating several high-profile programs in Sacramento during the late 1990s, he was recruited in 2001 by the Bush administration to serve as deputy director of the National Park Service where he managed a budget of more than $2.3 billion and 30,000 employees.

– Renita Burns

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