Sandra Murray receives distinguished service award

April 01, 2010

Sandra Murray, the administrative assistant in the Penn State Eberly College of Science Office of Associate Dean Norman Freed, has received the 2009 Eberly College of Science Alumni Society Distinguished Service Award. The award was established in 1979 to recognize individuals who have made significant and outstanding leadership and service contributions to the Eberly College of Science over a sustained period of time. More information is online at

As part of her job, Murray is responsible for coordinating activities involving the college's Braddock Scholars, students who have unusually distinguished records and who have been awarded a full scholarship for tuition, room and board. She also works with students who want to change their majors or their campus locations; she works with the Student Council; and she helps students with issues related to graduation. She also participates in recruitment and orientation events.

According to Eric Reinhard, a Penn State corporate and foundation relations officer who nominated Murray for the award, "Sandy has a reputation for being the glue that keeps a significant portion of the college's activities operating at a professional level."

A native of Bellefonte, Pa., Murray entered the working world while she was a student at Bellefonte High School. On weekends, she would head to State College to work in a bakery on College Avenue. Amidst the cookies, cakes and pies, she fell in love with baking and began to dream of one day becoming a caterer. But she put that dream on hold when she graduated from high school and took a job in the finance office of the Penn State Creamery. Thirty years later, she still works for Penn State, and although she hasn't yet realized her dream of becoming a caterer, she has discovered another passion -- helping people.

"Students and parents come to me with all sorts of problems," said Murray. "For example, a student might realize too late that he or she doesn't have enough credits to graduate on time. Part of my job is to help people sort out such issues. I pride myself in making more people happy than sad."

According to Suzanne Grieb, assistant director for stewardship in the Eberly College of Science who nominated Murray for the award, "to be able to assist students and parents with their myriad problems requires a strong knowledge of University policy, great patience, and a kind heart. Sandy has all these attributes."

Murray previously was honored in 2002 with the Penn State Eberly College of Science Staff Excellence Award.

Murray began working in the Associate Dean's Office in 1990.

"I'm lucky to have a job I love," she said. "I'm also lucky to have wonderful people to work with, lucky to have terrific staff, and lucky to have such a great boss in Dean Freed."

Murray also thinks that luck is what won her the Distinguished Service Award.

"The day that I found out I had won the award, I found a penny 'heads up;' I think winning the award had a lot to do with luck."

But those who work with her know that luck has nothing to do with it.

"Sandy is one of the finest professionals I have had the pleasure of working with," said Reinhard. "I've never heard her say, 'no I can't help.' She provides a welcoming environment for students and parents, and that type of personal connection truly makes them feel that they are not just a number."

In addition to helping students and parents, Murray also has volunteered her time to help those with cancer by serving for many years as co-chair of the Penn State Educational Office Professionals (PSEOP) chapter of American Cancer Society's Relay for Life, a fundraising event to support cancer research. She has served as the secretary and as a board member of PSEOP for several years. She currently is chair the college's Undergraduate Staff Assistants group, a member of the college's Undergraduate Education Advisory Council (UEAC), and a member of the college's Retention Committee. In addition, she volunteers for the United Way by serving as a pie-of-the-month donor.

Murray also brings joy each year to her colleagues across campus when she delivers homemade batches of Christmas cookies.

"Every year, my mother, my daughter and I spend the better part of a weekend baking hundreds of Christmas cookies," she said. "It's a nice way to let the people that I work with know that I appreciate them."

Although Murray is eligible to retire, she said she's not yet ready.

"My job is never boring," she said. "Each day I have something new to do and I never get tired of seeing students smile."

However, when she does retire, Murray said she plans to spend more time baking.

"I'm not sure I'll have the energy to start a catering company, but I would love to find a way to sell my baked goods,"she said. In addition, Murray is working toward her Certificate in Business Management through Penn State's Continuing and Distance Education program.

For more information about the Eberly College of Science Alumni Society Distinguished Service Award, contact Jason Ramesar in the office of alumni relations and development at or 814-863-3705.

  • Sandra Murray has received the Penn State Eberly College of Science 2009 Alumni Society Distinguished Service Award.

    IMAGE: Penn State
Last Updated January 09, 2015