Murray State University

Murray State University
Murray State University
Established 1922
Type Public
Endowment $27.9 million[1]
President Randy Dunn
Provost Bonnie Higginson
Academic staff 406
Students 10,416 (Fall 2010)[2]
Undergraduates 8,429 (Fall 2010)
Postgraduates 1,987 (Fall 2010)
Location Murray, KY, USA
Campus 258.43 acres (main campus)
Living Alumni 57,949
Colors Navy Blue and Gold
Athletics 17 varsity teams
Nickname "Racers"
(except baseball: "Thoroughbreds" or "'Breds")
Mascot Dunker, Racers
Affiliations Ohio Valley Conference

Murray State University, located in the city of Murray, Kentucky, is a four-year public university with approximately 10,400 students. The school is Kentucky’s only public university to be listed in the U.S.News & World Report regional university top tier for the past 20 consecutive years (non-doctoral degree granting universities).[3] In addition to the main campus, Murray State University operates extended campuses offering upper level and graduate courses in Paducah, Hopkinsville, Madisonville, and Henderson.


The history of Murray State University can be traced to the passage of Senate Bill 14 by the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, which would create two normal schools to address the growing demand for professional teachers. One of these schools would be in the western part of the state, which caused many cities and towns to bid for the new normal school. Rainey T. Wells spoke on behalf of the city of Murray to convince the Normal School Commission to choose his city. On September 2, 1922, Murray was chosen as the site of the new western normal school, and Morehead was chosen as the site for the eastern normal school. On November 26, 1922, John Wesley Carr was elected as the first president of the Murray State Normal School by the State Board of Education. At the same time, the Normal School Commission, under the belief that it had the right to elect the first president, elected Rainey T. Wells. May 15, 1923, The Kentucky Court of Appeals upheld the decision made by the State Board of Education, and Carr would be the first president.

Opening day for Murray State Normal School was September 23, 1923. Until the first building was completed, now Wrather West Kentucky Museum, the Normal School held classes on the first floor of Murray High School. All students commuted to classes until the first dormitory, Wells Hall, was constructed in 1925. Wilson Hall was also completed under Carr's presidency, and other structures were in progress. In 1926, Rainey T. Wells, recognized as the founder of Murray State, became the second president. Wells served as president from 1926 to 1932, and during this time Lovett Auditorium, Carr Health Building and Pogue library were all completed. In 1926, the Normal School was also renamed to Murray State Normal School and Teachers College when the General Assembly granted the institution authority to confer baccalaureate degrees. In 1928, the college was accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. In 1930, the name was changed to Murray State Teachers College when the school was granted authority to offer liberal arts and preprofessional courses. The name was changed again in 1948 to Murray State College, and then in 1966 the General Assembly authorized the Board of Regents to change the name to Murray State University.

The Shield

The Shield is the official seal of the university. It is taken from the heraldic coat-of-arms of the family of William Murray, Earl of Mansfield and Lord Chief Justice of Great Britain in 1756. William Murray is an ancestor of the Murray family from whom the city and the university take their names. The shield is blue with a double gold border — its three stars represent hope, endeavor and achievement.

Presidents of the university

  1. John W. Carr, 1923–1926
  2. Rainey T. Wells, 1926–32
  3. John W. Carr, 1933–1936
  4. James H. Richmond, 1936–1945
  5. Ralph H. Woods, 1945–1968
  6. Harry M. Sparks, 1968–1973
  7. Constantine W. Curris, 1973–1983
  8. Kala M. Stroup, 1983–1990
  9. James L. Booth, 1989-1990 (Acting)
  10. Ronald J. Kurth, 1990–1994
  11. Samuel Kern Alexander, 1994–2001
  12. Fieldon King Alexander, 2001–2005
  13. Samuel Kern Alexander, 2006 (Interim)
  14. Tim Miller, 2006 (Interim)
  15. Randy J. Dunn, 2006–Present


The Quad

Pogue Library and the quadrangle, featuring the statue of founder Rainey T. Wells.

The oldest and most easily recognizable buildings on the Murray State campus are situated around a large, grassy, tree-lined area on the south side of campus. This part of campus, known as the Quadrangle, is bounded by 16th Street to the west, 15th Street to the east, Lovett Auditorium to the north and Wilson Hall to the south.

In the southwest corner of the Quad sits the oldest building on campus, Wrather West Kentucky Museum, which was known first as the Administration Building and then as Wrather Hall before it became a museum. Ground was broken for Wrather Hall on October 15, 1923, and it has been in use since 1924. Wrather Hall first housed administrative offices and classrooms before becoming Wrather West Kentucky Museum. The building features a large auditorium that is frequently used for lectures and meetings. Faculty Hall, Wells Hall and the Business Building line the western edge of the Quadrangle. The Lowry Center, Pogue Library and the Price Doyle Fine Arts Center line the eastern side of the Quad. The 11-story Doyle Fine Arts Center is the tallest building on campus, housing the Robert E. Johnson Theatre, Clara Eagle Art Gallery, WKMS-FM and television studios used for student work and the taping of Murray State's signature show, Roundabout U, as wells as numerous classrooms, practice rooms and recital halls.

Directly south of the Quad is Sparks Hall. Sparks Hall is the main administrative building, housing the offices of student financial aid, admissions and registration, accounting and financial services, vice president for administrative services, Center for Continuing Education and Academic Outreach, human resources and university communications. The six-story, 39,000-square-foot (3,600 m2), Sparks Hall was completed in 1967 at a cost of $1,308,514.

To the south of the Quadrangle, and directly west of Sparks Hall is Oakhurst, which is the residence of the university president. Construction of the residence, originally known as Edgewood, began in 1917 and was completed in 1918. The home was built by Dr. and Mrs. Rainey T. Wells. The Board of Regents purchased the home from Rainey T. Wells in June 1936. It was remodeled that year and renamed Oakhurst in preparation for James H. Richmond's occupation of the house.[4]

Central campus

The central portion of the Murray State campus lines 15th Street between Chestnut Street and Olive Boulevard. This portion of 15th Street was originally open to automobile traffic, but has since been closed and converted into a pedestrian thoroughfare. Along the west side of the 15th Street pedestrian pathway is the Martha Layne Collins Center for Industry and Technology, Blackburn Science Building and Oakley Applied Science Building. To the east of the pedestrian pathway lies the Curris Center, Carr Health Building and Cutchin Fieldhouse, Waterfield Library, Ordway Hall, Woods Hall and Mason Hall.

The most historic building in the central portion of campus is Ordway Hall. The contract for construction of Ordway Hall was approved in April 1930, and construction was completed in 1931. Originally built as a men's dormitory, the 38,600-square-foot building was constructed at a cost of $106,765. Ordway Hall currently houses unique event space and several offices, including the Career Services and Student Affairs offices. Despite Ordway Hall's architectural and historic significance to the Murray State campus, the school plans to demolish Ordway Hall between 2012 and 2014 rather than upgrade the building to meet current fire protection and ADA requirements.[5][6]

West campus

Alexander Hall, named for former Murray State president Kern Alexander

An aggressive building campaign on campus has resulted in a westward expansion of the main academic campus of Murray State. The expansion began with a massive renovation and expansion of what is now known as Alexander Hall on the west side of 16th Street near Calloway Avenue. The project was the first to unveil a new architectural style that would become consistent through all renovation and new construction projects on campus. Alexander Hall houses classrooms and offices for the college of education. Construction continued with the new state-of-the-art science complex for biology, chemistry and engineering that is located just to the southwest of Alexander Hall. The massive new science complex was constructed in phases, with the biology building opening in 2004, and the rest of the complex and centerpiece clock tower reaching final completion in March 2008. The new clock tower was dedicated in 2007 as the Jesse L. Jones Family Clock Tower.

Sports and recreation facilities

Roy Stewart Stadium

The majority of the university's sports and recreation facilities are located on the northern-most edge of the campus, along the KY-121 Bypass. The most prominent structure in the sports complex is Roy Stewart Stadium. The stadium, which is home field to the Murray State Racers football program, was completed in 1973 and named for former Murray State football coach Roy Stewart. It seats 16,800. The outdated AstroTurf surface was replaced with FieldTurf in 2007. Located on the second floor of the seven-story press box and seating structure is the Pat Spurgin Rifle Range, which is the home of the three-time NCAA champion rifle squad. The 8,602-seat CFSB Center was completed in 1998 to replace the aging Racer Arena that had been outgrown by the men's and women's basketball teams. On April 16, 2005, the new Susan E. Bauernfeind Student Recreation and Wellness Center was dedicated. The new 73,000-square-foot (6,800 m2) student recreation center includes a swimming pool, two racquetball courts, a walking/jogging track, an aerobic studio, basketball courts, and free weights and cardio workout machines. The center is located just north of the residential colleges, near Roy Stewart Stadium.

Residence halls

Currently, a building campaign has begun to replace many of the older residence halls. A replacement building for Clark College was completed and ready for residents at the beginning of the 2007 fall semester. This made Clark College the newest building, and the only residence hall specifically designed around the residential college concept and model. Another new residential college has now been constructed. J.H. Richmond College opened in fall 2009. It has the same concept and design as Clark College. In the fall of 2009, the old Clark College was torn down.

Your World To Explore

Murray State recently[when?] adopted a new tagline, "Your World to Explore." Since its inception, the university has implemented a campaign to not only showcase the tag, but to expand the branding of the university. Most recently, the "We Are Racers" campaign began as a way of highlighting the inclusiveness of all parts of the Murray State family. A statement was adopted that is being widely used throughout the campus community — "Like the Thoroughbreds we are named for, Racers are spirited and proud. We have the heart and will to succeed, to go farther, learn more and embrace wisdom. We are champions who take our place in the Murray State tradition. We are Racers."


Murray State University offers 11 associate, 64 bachelor, and 42 master and specialist programs, which are administered through five academic colleges, two schools, 30 departments, and one joint program shared by the college of business and the department of industrial and engineering technology. The college of business is the largest at Murray State, enrolling 23 percent of the undergraduate students.

Murray State has been institutionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and School, Commission on Colleges, continuously since 1928. Murray is one of only eight schools in the state of Kentucky to achieve AACSB accreditation of business programs;[7] however the school is not AACSB-accredited in accounting programs.[8] Several other programs have achieved specialized accreditation - primarily programs in teaching, fine arts and nursing. As a former normal school and teachers college, Murray State is best known for its NCATE-accredited education programs, but the university has also gained national recognition for its fine arts programs. The department of music has been a member of the National Association of Schools of Music since 1936.[9]

Murray State University offers a wide range of majors, minors and areas of study, many of which are not commonly found at colleges and universities similar to MSU in size. These include:

Program Type Additional Information
Occupational Safety and Health Area of Study Includes courses in Hazardous Materials Site Operations as well as Emergency Medical Training.
Telecommunications Systems Management Area of Study
Equine Science Major
Pre-Veterinary Major (typically Biology) Pre-Professional Program
Geographic Information Science Degree Option Classes typically held in the Mid-America Remote Sensing Center, located on-campus on the third floor of the Lowry Center
Gerontology Minor Typically associated with a major in Social Work
Engineering Physics Area of Study ABET/EAC-accredited program that provides students with exposure to both core physics and engineering curriculums. Gives students options of electrical, mechanical or biomedical emphases as well as allowing them to sit for Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam.

Campus life

Residential colleges

Elizabeth Residential College

Murray State was the first public university in the nation to adopt a successful campus-wide residential college program [1]. The residential college structure, which took form on the campus in 1996, is based on similar, but much more established programs at the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge in the United Kingdom as well as Yale University, Harvard College and Princeton University in the United States.

The Murray State model does not include some components of the classical residential college model, such as dining halls and libraries at each college; large common meeting areas for activities, group study and academic training; and large courtyards or outdoor spaces for socializing and recreation. In the Murray State model students do share central dining areas and recreation areas. However, as the older structures are being phased out, the university is taking steps with the new residential colleges to address many of those needs.

Although the physical structures of all of Murray State's residential colleges do not completely match those of institutions such as Oxford or Yale, the basic residential college concept was successfully implemented. All faculty, staff and students, even those who live off-campus, are assigned to one of the eight residential colleges. Once assigned to a residential college, a person remains a member of that college throughout their time at the university, developing friendships, traditions and lasting bonds that are meant to endure years after leaving Murray State. One of the goals in establishing the program was to improve student life and retention and graduation rates, and measurable progress has been made in that endeavor.

The eight colleges of Murray State

  1. Clark College, named for Lee Clark, who assisted Rainey T. Wells in founding the university. Clark later served as the superintendent of grounds and buildings. The current Clark College opened in August 2007 as the first new residence hall built on campus since 1970. It is also the first residence hall at Murray to be specifically designed to support the residential college concept.
  2. Elizabeth College, named for Elizabeth Harkless Woods, wife of fourth Murray State President Ralph H. Woods.
  3. Hart College, named for George Hart, a Board of Regents member and former mayor of Murray.
  4. Hester College, named for Cleo Gillis Hester, who served Murray State University from 1927–60, as registrar.
  5. Regents College, named in honor of the outstanding citizens who have served on Murray State University’s Board of Regents. Regents Hall was completed in 1970.
  6. Richmond College, named for the third president of the university, James H. Richmond.
  7. Springer-Franklin College, named for O.B. Springer, member of the Board of Regents from 1950–58 and 1960–70, and Hollis C. Franklin, who served on the Board from 1947-56.
  8. White College, named for R.H. "Bob" White, a Board of Regents member.

Student Government Association

The Student Government Association, commonly known as SGA, is the officially organized body governing all students and student organizations at Murray State University. The purposes of the Student Government Association are to promote the welfare, growth and development of student life in an environment of academic excellence, to represent the students in all phases of administrative effort and to provide a means of promoting cooperative efforts for the general welfare of the university community. SGA is made up four branches: Senate, Campus Activities Board, Judicial Board and the Residential College Association. The Senate is the main branch of SGA, and it is the governing body with the power to pass resolutions, bills, rules and regulations necessary for the general welfare of the university, and to implement and maintain any programs consistent with SGA purposes. The president of SGA holds the student seat on the Board of Regents.

Greek life

Murray State is home to active chapters of several social Greek organizations. The oldest fraternities on campus are Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia and Sigma Alpha Iota (both relating to music). For the 2006-07 academic year, 873 students were involved with Greek life (10.4% of undergraduates).

NIC chapters NPC chapters NPHC chapters PFA chapters Independent Fraternities
Pi Kappa Alpha 1958 Sigma Sigma Sigma 1942 Alpha Phi Alpha 1969 Sigma Alpha Iota 1939 Phi Mu Alpha 1938
Sigma Chi 1959 Alpha Sigma Alpha 1946 Delta Sigma Theta 1970 Alpha Kappa Psi 1966 Kappa Sigma 2006
Tau Kappa Epsilon 1959 (recolonized 2006) Alpha Omicron Pi 1961 Alpha Kappa Alpha 1971 Alpha Zeta 1981
Alpha Tau Omega 1959 Alpha Gamma Delta 1966 Kappa Alpha Psi 1972 Sigma Alpha 2001
Lambda Chi Alpha 1968 Kappa Delta 1967 (closed since 1984) Omega Psi Phi
Sigma Pi 1968 Alpha Delta Pi 1968 Phi Beta Sigma 1982 (rechartered 1998)
Alpha Gamma Rho 1968 Alpha Phi 1978 (closed since 1990) Zeta Phi Beta 2000
Kappa Alpha Order 1969 (closed) Iota Phi Theta 2001
Sigma Phi Epsilon 1969
Sigma Nu 1969 (closed)
Phi Kappa Tau 1982 (rechartered 2005)
Sigma Tau Gamma 1992 (closed since 1999)
Alpha Sigma Phi 1994
Delta Sigma Phi 1968-1991(closed)


Alma Mater
The Alma Mater of Murray State University is sung to the tune of Annie Lisle and has two verses. Words were written by A.B. Austin, Dean of Men, in 1935. The Alma Mater is traditionally sung at student orientation, convocation and commencement ceremonies, athletic events and other special events on campus.

All-Campus Sing
All-Campus Sing is an annual event, first held in 1958, that takes place each April in which residential colleges, fraternities, sororities and other student organizations compete in choreographed song and dance competition. The event is hosted by the Iota Beta chapter of Sigma Alpha Iota (original organizer of the event), in conjunction with the MSU Alumni Association and the office of student affairs. It is held on the steps of historic Lovett Auditorium.

Campus Lights
Campus Lights is the longest running student produced and performed musical in the South. The show was started in 1938 by the Gamma Delta chapter of Phi Mu Alpha as a fundraiser to pay the chapter's chartering fees. Campus Lights is now produced by a joint effort of the Gamma Delta chapter of Phi Mu Alpha and the Iota Beta chapter of Sigma Alpha Iota. All proceeds from the show are given to the department of music in order to fund scholarships.

Racer One
In 1976, the tradition of having a thoroughbred run around the track after every MSU football touchdown began. The name of that first racehorse was Violet Cactus. After the death of Violet Cactus in 1984, the horse Nancy Duster took over the job for one year. Violet Cactus is buried at Roy Stewart Stadium near the area where Racer One begins its run around the football field after a Racer touchdown. She is the only mascot to be interred inside the walls of the stadium. In 1985, the first Racer One began circling the football field after touchdowns. Several horses have filled the role of Racer One since 1985.

Shoe Tree
Located in front of Pogue Library on the Quad is a tree with many pairs of shoes nailed to the trunk. The tradition is that if a couple gets married after meeting at Murray State, they return to the Quad and each one nails a shoe to the "Shoe Tree." Many of the shoes include names and dates written on them. If the couple has a baby, the baby's shoes are then nailed to the tree. It should be noted that this tree (due to a high zinc content from the nails) is a common target of lightning and has caught fire in the past, but the tradition continues.



Murray State's men's and women's athletic teams are known as the Racers, with the exception of the baseball team which is known as the Thoroughbreds. All of MSU's athletic teams compete in the Ohio Valley Conference, whose conference roster includes 10 other regional public universities.

Murray State is particularly renowned for its men's basketball program, which has made 14 appearances in the NCAA Tournament, most recently in 2010. As a 13-seed, Murray State won their second ever NCAA tournament game on a buzzer beater against 4th-seeded Vanderbilt. Former Alabama head basketball coach Mark Gottfried coached the Racers to three Ohio Valley Conference Championships, all three years he coached there, the only OVC coach to accomplish such a mark.[10] The basketball program has been recognized as one of the top 30 basketball programs in modern history by ESPN.[11]

Murray State also is home to one of the nation's top rifle programs. The Racers claimed national championships in 1978 (NRA), 1985 (NCAA) and 1987 (NCAA) and have produced six individual NCAA national champions, including two-time national titlist and 1984 Summer Olympics gold medalist Pat Spurgin.

The football program has become a steppingstone to major-college coaching success. Frank Beamer, the current Virginia Tech head coach who built that program into a national power in the 1990s and early 2000s, and current Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt are both former Racers head coaches. Former Maryland head coach Ralph Friedgen is a former Racers assistant under Beamer, and current Illinois head coach Ron Zook was an assistant under current ESPN college football analyst Mike Gottfried, who was Beamer's predecessor as head coach.


The Murray State News
The Murray State News is the student newspaper of Murray State University. The newspaper has been the recipient of several ACP Pacemaker awards, the highest award given to collegiate newspapers. The most recent awards were earned in 2004,[12] 1999,[13] and 1998.[14] The newspaper also gained notoriety between 1998 and 2001 through the work of Darin Shock. Shock earned the honor of top college cartoonist in the nation from the College Media Advisers in 2000. He had earned second place honors during the previous year.[15] *The Murray State News'

The Shield
The school yearbook, The Shield, was awarded three Pacemaker awards and two CSPA Silver Crowns in the last ten years. The Shield ceased publication with its 2008 edition.

New Madrid
The University's national literary magazine, New Madrid([2]), with editor Ann Neelon, features work from a range of nationally-recognized authors, and has received acclaim from sources as diverse as La Bloga, a leading Hispanic journal, and New Pages, a leading national review of literary magazines.


WKMS-FM (91.3 FM), is a non-commercial, educational National Public Radio-affiliated station licensed and operated by Murray State University. WKMS features a variety of NPR programming and local music shows ranging from classical music, bluegrass, alternative rock, jazz, electronica and world music.

In Pop Culture

In the 1993 music video for "The Heart Won't Lie," by Reba McEntire and featuring Vince Gill, McEntire is seen walking on a beach wearing a Murray State sweatshirt. In the 1989 Bruce Willis movie In Country, Murray State is mentioned once and the old Racer logo can be seen in the windshield of a vehicle several times.

Notable alumni

Arts and entertainment


Business and industry

  • W. Dwight Armstrong (BS '71), vice president of Provimi Holding Co. and chairman of North American Nutrition Companies, Inc. [5]
  • Arthur J. Bauernfeind (BA '60), Chairman & CEO of Westfield Capital Management LLC [6][7][8][9]
  • Rex Geveden ('83, MS '84), president of Teledyne Brown Engineering
  • Dr. Gene W. Ray (BS '60), Former Chairman, President, & CEO of Titan Corporation, Current Chief Executive Officer of GMT Ventures LLC, in La Jolla, CA.[10][11]
  • Kris Robbins ('81, MBA '83, ΛΧΑ), president and CEO of Security Benefit Corp. [12]

Government, law, and military

  • Jerry Brown (BA '54), U.S. Bankruptcy Judge for the Eastern District of Louisiana [13]
  • Rex Geveden (MS '84), former Associate Administrator of NASA
  • Anna McHargue (BS '56, ΣΣΣ), the first female flight surgeon in USAF Reserves, former commander of the 349th Aerospace Medicine Squadron
  • Steven Rudy (BS '00), Republican member of the Kentucky House of Representatives.
  • Don Tharpe ('74, '75, ΑΦΑ), president and CEO of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, former executive director of the Association of School Business Officials International [14]
  • Harry Lee Waterfield ('32), Two time Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky[19]
  • Kenneth W. Winters, BS and former Murray State dean, Republican member of the Kentucky State Senate


Partner universities


  1. ^ As of June 30, 2009. "U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2009 Endowment Market Value and Percentage Change in Endowment Market Value from FY 2008 to FY 2009" (PDF). 2009 NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments. National Association of College and University Business Officers. Retrieved February 16, 2010. 
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ Fifty Years of Progress: A History of Murray State University. 1973. p 93
  5. ^
  6. ^ Fifty Years of Progress: A History of Murray State University. 1973. p 85
  7. ^ AACSB International
  8. ^ AACSB International
  9. ^ Department of Music - Murray State University
  10. ^ "Mark Gottfried". 2002-05-02. Retrieved 2007-03-05. [dead link]
  11. ^ "MSU Basketball 30th in ESPN Rankings". 
  12. ^ ACP - Contest Winners
  13. ^ ACP - Contest Winners
  14. ^ ACP - Contest Winners
  15. ^ "Cartoonist named top college artist in nation". The Murray State News. Nov. 17, 2000. p.7.
  16. ^ "Western trying to sell 5,000 season tickets", Associated Press at The Harlan Daily Enterprise, May 28, 1992.
  17. ^ "Murray State Athletics Hall of Fame" (accessed March 17, 2011).
  18. ^
  19. ^

Coordinates: 36°36′56.27″N 88°19′18.00″W / 36.6156306°N 88.32167°W / 36.6156306; -88.32167

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