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Meet our Provost
The Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs is responsible for the broad supervision of all academic areas of College life, including all matters related to the faculty, as well as areas like advising, the library, tutoring, and registration.
Working in collaboration with the Deans of the School of Arts & Social Sciences, Business, Education, and STEM, the Provost maintains the integrity of all academic programs and ensures that students are given every opportunity and advantage the College can offer to prepare them for the next step after they leave us, whether for a career or graduate school.
Before becoming Provost, Dr. Murray served as the Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences and, prior to that, as Chair of the Division of Humanities; in addition he holds the rank of Professor of English at the College. He also served as Director of the Writing Program. Dr. Murray joined the faculty of St. Thomas Aquinas College in 1998 after teaching at the Virginia Military Institute, Princeton University, and Rutgers University. He received his Ph.D. in English from Rutgers University.
Dr. Murray’s areas of research include 19th Century American Literature, especially the work of Nathaniel Hawthorne, as well as literary realism and naturalism and African-American literature. He has published work on composition theory, specifically on the topic of race and asymmetrical power relationships within the context of a college classroom.
Learn more about Dr. Murray
“Who can’t sleep like a log in a solitary cabin in the woods, you wake up in the late morning so refreshed and realizing the universe namelessly: the universe is an Angel.”
~ Jack Kerouac, Big Sur
I have had the pleasure of working at St. Thomas Aquinas College since 1998. Before that, I taught at Virginia Military Institute, Princeton University, Rutgers University, Middlesex County College, and Raritan Valley Community College.
Born and raised in the forgotten borough of NYC, Staten Island, I have loved reading from an early age, at one point working through about five Hardy Boys novels a month. My 8th grade English teacher Sister Madeline assigned us Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables and lots of Antoine de Saint-Exupery, and I was hooked. At Tottenville High School, I had two fantastic English teachers: Carl Larsen and Hugh Rainey; they introduced me to Shakespeare, Dickens, Hardy, and many, many more. In college and graduate school, I focused on American writers, including Hawthorne, Thoreau, Melville, Dickinson, Faulkner, Crane, Emerson — and later others, such as Jim Harrison, Flannery O’Connor, Jack Kerouac, Nella Larsen, Jean Toomer, Wallace Stegner, and (my current favorite) Marilynne Robinson. Lately, I’ve trying to read everything Graham Greene and Peter Matthiessen wrote. I’m increasingly interested in nature writing, reading John Muir, Barry Lopez, Edward Abbey, Bernd Heinrich, and Annie Dillard. I am also interested in works written by men and women of other cultures and times, especially the work of Dostoevsky, Gogol, Turgenev, Rilke, Jeelani Bano, and Anita Desai.
Other than reading, I love fly-fishing, kayaking, and hiking in Western Maine; fishing the Kenai River and near Cordova, Alaska; watching The Simpsons, Arrested Development, 30 Rock, Better Call Saul, Breaking Bad, and Fargo; watching TCM and Criterion Channel; and playing guitar. I listen to many types of music, everything from Patty Griffin, The Dead, Tom Waits, and G. Love; 20th-century music by John Tavener, John Adams, and Arvo Part; to Warren Zevon, Jay Farrar, Elvis Costello, and (of course) Joni Mitchell, and (of course) Stevie Wonder, and (of course) Bob Dylan; to Miles Davis, Lee Morgan, Dexter Gordon, Kenny Dorham, and John Coltrane; to Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schumann, Medieval Polyphony and, lately, lots and lots of Mahler.
Finally, it is my pleasure to be able to support some of the amazing work being done in Rockland County by serving as Chair of the Board of Directors for the wonderful organization, United Way Rockland.
- Nathaniel Hawthorne
- 19th Century
- American Literature
- American Realism and Naturalism
- American Regionalism
- History and Theory of Comedy
“Nature, Food, and the Essay in Jim Harrison,” Panel Chair, American Literature
Association National Conference, Boston, MA
“Interdisciplinary Approaches to American Regionalism,” Panel Chair, American Literature Association National Conference, Boston, MA
“Time, Memory, and Region in American Literature,” Panel Chair, American Literature
Association National Conference, Boston, MA
“Heidegger, Harrison, Rilke: Form and Being in Jim Harrison’s Poetry,” Jim Harrison Society Panel, at the American Literature Association National Conference, Boston, MA
“Landscape and Form in Willa Cather and Jim Harrison,” Jim Harrison Society Panel, at the American Literature Association National Conference, Boston, MA.
“Concealment and Anti-Epiphany in American Realism and Naturalism,” American Literature and Religion Society Panel, at the American Literature Association National Conference, Boston, MA.
“Social Class, Labor, and Nineteenth-Century American Literature,” Panel Chair, at the Central New York Conference on Language and Literature, Cortland, NY.
“Race and Realism in Afro-American Antebellum Literature,” at the Central New York Conference on Language and Literature, Cortland, NY.
“A Comfortable Thing’: Nationalism, Pluralism, and Class in The Silent Partner.” Northeast Modern Language Association Conference, Baltimore, MD.
“Language as Power in Rebecca Harding Davis,” College English Association, Baltimore, MD.
“Resistance and Realism in Clotel,” National Association of African American Studies Conference, Houston, TX.
“The Man with the House on His Head: Jean Toomer’s Grotesque,” College English Association, New Orleans, LA.
“The Truth that History Has Let Slip’: The Two Histories of The House of the Seven Gables,” Annual Conference of the American Cultural Association of the South, Richmond, VA.
“Neutral Territories’ and Racialized Spaces in Hawthorne,” Northeast Modern Language Association Conference, Boston, MA.
“Modes of White Resistance in the Composition Classroom,” Temple University Conference on Discourse Analysis, Philadelphia, PA.
“Contact and Power: Transcending Authority in the Classroom,” Conference on College Composition and Communication, Milwaukee, WI.
“Assuming (and Unassuming) Authority in the Classroom,” Breaking Barriers: Literature and Emerging Issues International Conference, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Princess Anne, MD.
“Point of Power in the Historia of a Successful Basic Writing Program,” Chair, Conference on College Composition and Communication Chicago.
Roundtable Discussion Leader, “Nurturing Junior Faculty.” Workshop for Department and Division Chairs: Creative Leadership with Limited Resources, Council of Independent Colleges, Cambridge, MA.
Workshop for Department and Division Chairs: Marketing Your Department, Council of Independent Colleges, Albany.
Workshop for Department and Division Chairs: Essential Tools for Leading the Academic Department, Council of Independent Colleges, Philadelphia
Workshop for Department and Division Chairs: Effective Strategies for Leading the Academic Department, Council of Independent Colleges.
“Transformation of the College Library,” Regional Workshop, Council of Independent Colleges, Pittsburgh, PA.
“Workshop on Assessment Using the New Middle States Model,” Middle States Commission on Higher Education, Philadelphia, PA.
“Assessing General Education: A Practical Approach”; “Improving Learning in the Undergraduate Course: Assessing Critical Thinking”; “Integrating and Assessing General Education in the Classroom” at Assessment: A Shared Commitment, American Association for Higher Education National Conference, Boston.
“Bridging College and High School Writing: A Discussion about Expectations,” Connecting Students with Literacy Across the Curriculum, St. Thomas Aquinas College.
“Teaching the Conflicts: Race and Huckleberry Finn,” Workshop for Writing and Thinking, Bard College.
“Practicing the Arts of the Contact Zone,” Conference on College Composition and Communication, Washington.
“New Directions in Writing Center Research: Creating Agendas for Action,” Conference on College Composition and Communication, Nashville, TN.