Liz Murphy is the CEO of CampusWorks Inc., an information technology management firm that works exclusively with the higher education market. An accomplished businesswoman and leader, Liz was the Chief Client Officer of Datatel, Inc. before making her way to the top stop at CampusWorks. We spoke to Liz about education, her career and her work with the Lupus Foundation of America, where she is Chairman.
What does Campus Works Inc. do?
CampusWorks is a technology services company that helps college presidents sleep at night. We provide seasoned technologists to help colleges catch up and get ahead of the technology curve. College presidents can be overwhelmed with the complexity of technology and frustrated by the failures of technology investments to do what was advertised. CampusWorks’ chief information offi cers (CIOs) speak plain language and marry business acumen, leadership, and technical know-how into plans that deliver more services for less. Our CIOs are committed to our client colleges full time and are fully immersed in the culture and the mission of the college.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself? What made you decide to go into the education business?
I graduated from the University of Scranton with degrees in Communication and Philosophy, so getting a job was a bit of a challenge. Aft er just a few months of job searching I returned to my alma mater and said, “I know this place as well as any one and I think I can help. Is there any job you might have for me?”
They called back two weeks later and asked if I would like to try my hand at fundraising. So began my career in higher education—eight years in fundraising and 23 years working for companies dedicated to supporting the mission of higher education.
While Campus Works is exclusively geared towards the higher education market, what are your thoughts on education in general?
The U.S.has been ranking below other leading industrialized nations in education. There was a time, in the not so distant past, when we led the way. What is missing? What should be done now?
I am humbled by the question and as an employer I have 3 observations:
1. Get back to basics. Our school curriculum is fractured into so many small pieces that there is little emphasis on the basics of reading, writing and mathematics. I encounter countless individuals who cannot write a simple memo. New college graduates don’t appreciate that text slang is inappropriate in corporate emails. Focus on the basics and providing a strong liberal arts education and employers will train graduates to do the rest.
2. Hold students accountable for results. There is no room for excuses in business and there is no extra credit for effort. While we are working to create an encouraging and safe environment for students, it is critical that they face the results of their eff orts—positive or negative.
3. Make failing fun. New graduates appear to be paralyzed by the possibility of failure. It keeps them from taking on new responsibilities and from considering options from varied perspectives.
You are also the Chairman of the Lupus Foundation of America. Can you tell us a bit about that?
I am the chairman of the Lupus Foundation of America in DC, Maryland and Virginia. I joined the organization six years ago when I was looking for an opportunity to give back. At the time I didn’t know anyone with lupus. Since that time, both my sister and my dear friend Russ Griffi th have died from related autoimmune diseases.
Lupus, like all autoimmune diseases, is not curable and typically aff ects minority women. With early diagnosis, however, patients can live long lives with the disease. It typically takes four years to be correctly diagnosed and by that time the devastating aff ects of the disease have likely ravaged your kidneys and your brain. And lupus is sneaky. One day you feel great and the next you can’t get out of bed. Th ose bad days are called fl ares and a big part of managing the disease is managing the flares.
Our mission at the Lupus Foundation of America, DC, Maryland and Virginia is to help patients and their families live better with lupus. Th at means helping doctors to better understand the symptoms; giving patients the courage to ask, “Could I have lupus?”; giving patients the information and support they need to live with this disease. The Foundation’s groundbreaking patient navigation program provides education, support groups, and emergency grants to help patients while they battle lupus.
What are the primary goals of the Lupus Foundation? How can people reading this help?
All of our patient services are provided at no cost to our patients and their families. We can do this through the powerful support of donors and those who walk for lupus at our annual Walk for Lupus Now events. Our walk in D.C. is on April 21. We’ll march down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol waving butterfl ies along the way. Butterflies are the national symbol of hope for lupus patients. All the proceeds from the Walk in D.C. and our walks in Richmond and Baltimore go to fund our patient programs. If you want to help go to www.dclupuswalk.org.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
My biggest inspiration is Helen Dozer, my grandmother. She was CEO of the Dozer Clan and ran it with compassion, discipline, a sound financial plan and a sense of humor. My grandmother had very few choices in life, yet she accepted every new assignment without complaint. She managed diffi cult conversations with aplomb. She kept the men in the family in line while making them feel like they were in charge. She advised and mentored and comforted at the kitchen table. No conversation was off limits with Grammy. She was direct, compassionate—the model CEO.