Thursday, January 6, 2011

In Honor of our dear friend and colleague: Dr. Mary Murdock

Today, January 7th, 2011, is the first anniversary of the passing of our dear friend, Dr. Mary Murdock.

Mary was known for her creative spirit, southern accent, passion for life, and love of learning. Although she started her professional life as a school teacher, academia proved to be her natural home. She excelled in writing, researching, and presenting, but as any of her students will tell you, her real forte was teaching. In fact, many former students have said that she was the best teacher they ever had.

Mary’s teaching was not limited to just the classroom. Every interaction with her provided an opportunity to learn. Sometimes the lessons were obvious, and at other times it took days or weeks for the key points to sink in. In many ways, Mary is still teaching us right now.

In honor of this extraordinary teacher, we would like you to share something that you learned from Mary. To start the process, this is what the faculty and staff of ICSC learned from Mary:

“I learned from Mary that life can be a fascinating process. Even the most difficult experiences bring some aspect of joy when you are curious about the process”- Dr. Sue Keller Mathers

“Having worked on many projects and products with my dear friend Mary, one of the most profound things I learned from her is that the creative process is rarely a straight line. I also learned that one should never stop living life to its fullest” –Dr. Gerard Puccio

“Mary's favorite quote from Torrance always reminds me of her, 'Don't be afraid to fall in love with something and pursue it with intensity'. And, my Mary favorite word – ‘Dawg’” Dr. Roger Firestien

“In Mary I saw the picture of grace under fire”- Dr. Jo Yudess

“Don’t let others steal your joy”- Debi Johnson

“There is nothing wrong with being emotional. Emotions make you feel alive!”- Dr. Cyndi Burnett

“I learned a lot about grace. When I witnessed Mary learn for the first time that she had a year to live, I witnessed her resign with a good grace all that should could not be but instead, and I quote Shakespeare here, ‘...translate the stubbornness of fortune into so quiet and so sweet a style’”. –Dr. John Cabra

In the comment box below, please share with us what you learned from Dr. Mary Murdock.

For more information on the Mary Murdock Creative Spirit Scholarship Award, please visit our website.


  1. The most frequent lesson is about trusting the creative process and that "life sometimes gets in the way but you have to continue to pursue your goals." -Amy Shanahan

  2. Mary taught me to "put it out there and the universe will answer it." She also helped me understand the importantanc of reflection. I still find myself wanting to call her for some sage advice.- Alicia Arnold

  3. I now realise how blessed I was to meet Mary, learn from her and especially, talk with her for a couple of hours during my last visit in Buffalo. When I remember Mary, I mostly hear her colourful and passionate voice, and her laugh. Mary taught me the importance of playfulness and I will always be grateful to her for helping me get onto my own path to authenticity.

    Mary allowed me to record our conversation and I would like to share an extract from it here, to remember her today:

    "Caroline: What do you enjoy most?

    Mary: Probably, well first of all I enjoy dreaming. Now not sleep dreaming, although I enjoy that too because that’s fabulous, just this fabulous life that is in my dreams, but the dreaming when you’re waking. And that’s that INFP thing I think really. It’s just I’m a dreamy kind of person, so I guess what that actually means when I say dreaming is I like thinking and, you know, imagining and thinking about something quirky as it goes along without any kind of, doesn’t have a deadline on it, nobody owns you, there’s nothing you have to do with it, you can just do that thing for the sheer joy of it. And next to that then I would have to say writing of all kinds. Yeah, academic writing has with it, comes with its own, you know, the whole sense of bureaucracy and judgment and stuff, you know, and connected tightly to a system in a lot of ways, but I have gotten past what that is in the long run to say what matters is if you have something to say then you should write about it any way that you want to write about it and to hell with the rest of it, you know."

  4. Mary taught me how important it is to stay open and flexible. And I miss her laugh!

    Dan Coleman

  5. Through her words and actions, Mary taught me that teaching is a wonderfully creative process and that there are many ways to teach. I left her class with countless ideas, as well as the inspiration and confidence to develop my own style and techniques.

  6. I had several personal conversations with Mary and what she taught me was patience and happiness. She was a beautiful woman who was happy.

  7. A couple of years ago I was experiencing some fairly significant health problems, nothing compared to cancer of course but my hair was falling out from the medication I was taking and so was Mary's. We would chat on Skype and laugh about how silly it all was and how keeping a positive outlook was the most important thing. She told me that happiness was a choice and that one could always think of something to be happy about.

    The most important thing that Mary taught me though, was that "you have to know yourself and then you have to be yourself"
    She had a strength of character and self that was and is truly inspirational and I count her as one of my few, true mentors. I will always think of her often, smile, and be grateful that I was blessed enough to have known her.
    Karen Cheyne

  8. Sticking out, I'd say that she helped me understand that angels are people, too; and sometimes they swear.

  9. One thing Mary taught me was the importance of having "movement in the air" in my home office, TV on in another room or whatever else just so there was creativity in the air. So, I bought a chocolate lab (Josie) who now sits beside me in office each day sleeping, breathing and moving the air!

  10. To believe in myself... To laugh... a lot... And to both see and seek opportunities to be creative every chance you get! I smile to think of the impact you've already made up there in this past year! Heaven is gonna be an even better place by the time we all join you Mary!!

  11. Mary taught me about Jacob Moreno and psychodrama!

  12. Mary "is" an enthusiastic and sensitive person. Her skills to overcome challenges have been inspiring me since 2001. (Guilherme VerĂ­ssimo - Brazil, International Cohort # 1)

  13. I met Mary in 1988 and she has been a mentor to me ever since. I have her picture on my computer screen saver, the one where she is smiling sitting among all of the plants we sent her. She is still an ongoing source of inspiration for me and I miss her very much.

    Early on Mary encouraged me to write a book and that lit a dream in my soul that is finally coming to fruition and I am honoring my promise to her. My book will be out in March and of course I am dedicating it to the wonderful woman who inspired me to write it.

  14. To live by the words of the Manifesto for Children and embrace those words with everything that we do and pursue. Paul Guthart

  15. Here's Lion King's song "He Lives in You". Dedicating this to Dr. Murdock who helped my spirit fly! Maria Jose Rivera

  16. ...and thanks for the memories! Maria Jose Rivera

  17. At our first class, Mary said, "There are two kinds of problems: those that can be solved and those that don't matter." This gift has stuck with me since that class.

  18. I have met Mary for the first time at the CREA Conference in Italy in 2007; she made me aware of the Affective Skills, The Magnificent Seven; that inspiring moment I decided to try to participate in the Masters Degree Program, which I am attending now; thanks to Mary...