Kyrgz Republic destination for Murdock

Becky Husky

Central Asia’s Kyrgyz Republic may be Dr. Gwen Murdock’s new home once she retires this semester.

After 23 years at Missouri Southern, the department head of psychology will be missed.

“She [Murdock] is an amazing, dedicated, diligent professor who deeply cares about her students,” said Barb Gombosi, senior psychology major. “I have always enjoyed having her as my professor and she has helped me a lot throughout my college career.”

Murdock became a teacher because of her love for research and animal behavior. However, she soon found a new love once she entered the classroom.

“I would say doing the research was my primary focus and its been a central focus to the way I see myself,” she said. “It kind of surprised me how much I enjoyed teaching. So, then, that’s what I considered doing to earn a living.”

Playing with ideas and learning to adapt the classroom around her students is what she has enjoyed most about teaching, Murdock said.

“I always imagined, as a student, that it would be really boring to teach the same class over and over again. But, I find it very interesting because of being able to play with the presentation of ideas and seeing what’s more affective,” she said.

Murdock’s grandmother began her career as an elementary teacher in the 1890s. Her mother was an elementary teacher as well. However, Murdock says she was not motivated to follow in their steps.

“Elementary school teachers nowadays have very little autonomy and what always drove me was seeking more autonomy,” she said. “Having a more active role in deciding what I do.”

Over the years, Murdock has greatly enjoyed taking her students to psychology conventions. She was the faculty sponsor for SPEAK (students, peace, education, action and knowledge), a club that is currently inactive. Murdock said she will miss these activities, as well as her colleagues and students.

“Certainly, [I will miss] my colleagues and the department. I don’t think I would have stayed at Missouri Southern if it weren’t for the collegiality I feel,” she said. “And, obviously, year after year there are always students that I get a lot of satisfaction interacting with.”

Murdock has applied for a Fulbright grant that will allow her to teach psychology in the Kyrgyz Republic, a place she has traveled to three times. She has also visited Tanzania, India, Cuba, Mexico and Peru.

“If I’d stayed where I grew up, I’d have missed out on a lot of opportunities,” she said. “So, no one should stay, in this day and age, where they grew up. They should explore.”

If she receives the grant, it will last for only one year. So, after that, Murdock says she will see what other possibilities may emerge.

“In my opinion, she is one of the best professors at MSSU and I am sure I am not the only one who thinks so,” Gombosi said. “I wish her all the best upon her retirement. I will always remember her.”