Harvey Murphy oral history interview, 2012 August 15
In this interview, Dr. Harvey Murphy, long-time faculty member and athletic director at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, discusses his career at the university. He begins by recalling his first impressions of the fledgling campus in winter 1964 and of the contagiously optimistic director, Bonnie Cone, who recruited him to join the faculty and coach basketball--the latter of which he was reluctant to do. Dr. Murphy describes Dr. Cone’s “hands-on” leadership style, her “love and care of students,” and the “political miracle” of securing the college’s survival and eventual acceptance into the University of North Carolina System. He also comments on how Dr. Cone was passed over for the position of chancellor of UNC Charlotte, when Dean Colvard was appointed to the position in 1965. He reflects on how Dr. Cone’s vision for UNC Charlotte has been realized and comments on her and Dr. Colvard’s involvement in civil rights events on campus, speaking also of T. J. Reddy’s and Ben Chavis’s positions as African-American athletes at UNC Charlotte. From his own experience, Dr. Murphy recollects observing racism from competitors while he was basketball coach as well as receiving late-night calls attempting to intimidate him. He goes on to describe the logistics of running an athletics program with no on-campus facilities and the later tension between academic and athletic departments over use of the Belk Gym. Transitioning to speak of the period after he stepped down as athletic director, Dr. Murphy defines kinesiology, discusses applied exercise physiology and how he came to be interested in the field, and shares his view of the kinesiology department’s mission. He gives examples of his research including a project with the local fire department to institute a fitness program and evaluations. Other topics include the university’s colors and mascot and his involvement with planning the Student Activity Center, investigating the cost of starting a football program during the Colvard years, and developing an intramural program. He concludes with brief remarks on then-athletic director Judy Rose.
Harvey Murphy was an 81-year-old man at the time of interview, which took place in Special Collections on the tenth floor of the J. Murrey Atkins Library of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He was born in Enterprise, Alabama, in 1930, and was educated at Coffee County High School in Enterprise, Alabama, at Troy State Teachers College in Troy, Alabama, at Columbia University in New York City, and at the University of Illinois in Champaign, Illinois. He was employed as a sports master for the Saint Thomas Choir School for Boys in New York City; as a teacher and coach at Enterprise High School in Alabama; as a coach, athletic director, and chair of the Department of Health, Physical Education and Recreation at Shorter College in Rome, Georgia; and as a coach, professor, athletic director, and chair of the Department of Health and Physical Education (later Department of Health Promotion and Kinesiology, later Department of Kinesiology) at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.