Linda and Wendell Murphy have received the 2014 Menscer Cup, the North Carolina State University Foundation’s highest recognition for philanthropy, dedication and leadership on behalf of NC State. The award was presented during an Oct. 30 dinner ceremony at Park Alumni Center on the university’s Centennial Campus.
The foundation created the Menscer Cup in 1997 to honor Darrell and the late Carolyn Menscer for “exemplary leadership of advancement efforts.” While chairing the foundation and co-chairing the Campaign for NC State Students, Darrell Menscer led university fundraising, endowment management and alumni service. The cup became an annual award given to an individual or family that has made a major impact.
In accepting the Menscer Cup from Chancellor Randy Woodson and Ira J. “Jerry” Jackson III (’64), chairman of the foundation’s board of directors, Wendell Murphy (’60) spoke about his 1956 arrival in Raleigh. The Rose Hill native said he was determined to attend NC State, even after an admissions counselor cautioned him that a standardized test showed him unlikely to be successful at the school.
“What an honor it is to stand here before you. This is really, really special,” Murphy said. “I want all of you to know that I love NC State. I shudder to think what my life would have been like if that counselor had just sent me home.”
Linda and Wendell are members of the university’s Alexander Quarles Holladay Lifetime Giving Society, which recognizes support in excess of $5 million; honorary lifetime members of the Alumni Association; founding members of the State Club; and members of the University Club. Their philanthropy has helped power scholarships, programs, research and teaching enhancements, and capital projects across campus.
They have established endowments to support the Caldwell Fellows program for outstanding undergraduates; student scholarships in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; NCSU Libraries; and maintenance of the NC State University Club. The Murphy Club in the Park Alumni Center is named in recognition of their major support of the Alumni Association Campaign for Excellence.
Wendell, a 51-year Wolfpack Club member, earlier in October 2014 became the first “special contributor” inducted into NC State’s Athletic Hall of Fame, among its 30 members. In addition to the lead naming gift for the football operations center at Carter-Finley Stadium, he and Linda have supported other efforts including the Advantage Wolfpack tennis campaign, Batter Up baseball campaign, Ronnie Shavlik endowment and general athletics scholarship endowment. They provide a women’s basketball scholarship.
Linda has been especially active with NC State’s Friends of the Library, serving as a board member and chair.
After earning his bachelor’s degree in agricultural education from NC State, Wendell began his career as a vocational agriculture teacher. In 1962 he and his father, Holmes Murphy, opened a custom feed manufacturing operation. The Murphys later decided to diversify by raising hogs. Now the chairman and CEO emeritus of Murphy Family Farms Inc., Wendell was reappointed in 2013 to the NC State Board of Trustees, which he chaired during his first term of service (1999–2007).
He has chaired the Endowment Board and the Wolfpack Club’s board of directors, and has served on the boards of the Veterinary Medicine Foundation and Alumni Association, as well as the steering and executive committees for the university’s Achieve! Campaign. He was an early advocate for the establishment of NC State’s College of Veterinary Medicine. In 1999 Wendell received the Watauga Medal, the university’s highest award for outstanding and distinguished service.
“The best thing I’ve ever done for NC State is to serve on the search committee that selected Randy Woodson as our chancellor,” Murphy said at the Menscer Cup event.
In addition to supporting NC State, Linda and Wendell have a long record of service to eastern North Carolina and the state of North Carolina.
After years as a successful businessman, in 1983 Wendell was elected to the State House of Representatives, Tenth District, where he served until 1988. In 1989 he was elected to the North Carolina Senate, where he served until 1992. Among his accomplishments as a senator was sponsoring legislation leading to the first appropriation for PNC Arena.
The lengthy list of Wendell’s awards and honors includes North Carolina’s Order of the Long Leaf Pine; the Boy Scouts of America’s Centennial Distinguished Citizen Award; the NC Agribusiness Council’s Governor’s Award for Distinguished Service; the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce’s Corning Award for Distinguished Citizenship; and the National Pork Producers Council Hall of Fame. He has served on numerous boards and advisory panels.
Linda, who is an East Carolina University alumna, and Wendell support higher education beyond NC State. They are lifetime members of the University of Mount Olive Society, where their financial generosity includes the establishment of the Minot Elijah and Lou Belle West Godwin Scholarship Endowment in memory of Linda’s parents; and a naming gift in honor of Wendell’s mother for the Lois K. Murphy Regional Center. For 24 years, Wendell has served as a trustee at Mount Olive. At Campbell University, Linda has established the Linda Godwin Murphy Divinity Scholarship.
The Murphys have been involved with a wide range of arts and health organizations, such as the Medical Foundation of North Carolina and the UNC Kidney Center. Linda has served as a director of the Opera Company of North Carolina and a trustee of the North Carolina Museum of Art.
Linda and Wendell have four children, three of whom attended NC State, and seven grandchildren, three of whom are current students at the university.
“NC State needs the power of philanthropy to accelerate from very good to outstanding in everything that we do,” Chancellor Woodson said during the Menscer Cup presentation. “The couple we honor tonight certainly has demonstrated that power of philanthropy, as well as the power of service. It is truly a pleasure to honor the vision and dedication of Linda and Wendell Murphy.”
Several NC State students, representing areas that the Murphys have supported, attended the ceremony along with Murphy family members and friends. Also in attendance were members of the NC State Foundation’s board of directors and NC State Board of Trustees, former Menscer Cup winners, university deans and executive officers, and other friends of NC State.
The NC State Foundation is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization that furthers the university’s land-grant mission and strategic goals through fund-raising, the acceptance of private gifts, and the management of endowments and investments.