Wendell Murphy’s life changed the day he received the letter informing him he had been admitted into NC State University, he says. At the time, in 1956, he was “just a plain country boy, a Down East farmer’s son.”
Today, he’s the chair and chief executive officer emeritus of Murphy Family Farms, the nation’s leading swine producer. He’s also the NC State College of Education’s 2018 Distinguished Alumnus.
“The grandest honor I have received from my beloved university . . . was a simple letter that informed me I had been admitted to the freshman class at North Carolina State University in 1956,” Murphy said when accepting the Distinguished Alumnus Award during the NC State Alumni Association’s Evening of the Stars gala in early November. “That was the day that my life changed. That was the day my journey to this campus began. That was the day the seed was planted for any contribution I might be blessed to make to this university. The award I received here tonight sprouted that day.”
Murphy graduated from the College of Education in 1960 and worked as a teacher before translating what he learned about leadership into a career of business and policy leadership.
In addition to his work with the Murphy Family Farms, Murphy is a past member of the North Carolina House of Representatives and Senate. He also has served NC State as a member of the board of trustees, endowment board and numerous committees. His philanthropy has funded scholarships, programs, research and teaching enhancements, and capital projects.
“This prestigious university (NC State) had seen something in me that was worth allowing me to go to college,” Murphy said. “That is what the university has always done and should always do — reach out to families of ordinary North Carolinians with the promise that their sons and daughters will have a chance to become all they can be at this remarkable place we call NC State.”