Murphy named recipient of 2021 Barash Award for Human Service

April 22, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Dan Murphy, director for student orientation and transition programs at Penn State, is the University's 2021 recipient of the Barash Award for Human Service.

Created in 1975 by the family of the late Sy Barash, the award honors a full-time member of the faculty or staff or student body on the University Park campus who, apart from his or her regular duties, has contributed the most to human causes, public service activities and organizations, or the welfare of fellow humans.

Nominators said Murphy is credited with creating a seamless transition for students beginning their Penn State experience — even during the COVID-19 pandemic — but is equally dedicated to bettering his community. 

Until recently, he served as a council member for State College Borough Council. There, nominators said, he took on issues that bettered his community. Areas where he had the most impact were creating a more welcoming community, particularly for the LGBTQ+ community; advocating for students, young professionals, and young families; and, in the final months of his service, pushing for effective police reform.

Murphy was the youngest serving and first opening gay council member. 

“He changed the borough council because he approached every training, every meeting, every work session and every encounter with a constituent with his genuine approach to life,” a nominator said. “He listens to those around him, stays present in the moment, asks good and thoughtful questions and helps to develop a solution to the problem at hand.”

Murphy is also a trustee for “The Awesome Foundation,” which offers $1,000 grants to members of the community who are doing great things to improve the community. Nominees said Murphy is passionate about ensuring the grants go to the right people.

As head of student orientation, Murphy oversaw an unprecedented shift to remote orientation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In just a few months, he led an effort to centralize orientation University-wide, serving more than 17,000 incoming students in a virtual capacity. Nominators said it took an incredible amount of time, diligence and innovation to quickly make this shift.

“Dan has already had a significant impact at this University, within the State College community and among colleagues and community members,” a nominator said. “I have no doubt that he will continue to make an impact in peoples’ lives through the work he does. I look forward to seeing what innovative endeavors he pursues in the future that keeps shaping a better world for all of us.”

Last Updated April 22, 2021