The Thomas B. Murphy Center for Public Service prepares our citizenry for a lifetime of responsibility and effective engagement in civic and democratic life.

The Murphy Center is a non-partisan, educational, and community-engaged organization at the University of West Georgia that educates and inspires our students and community about real-world politics and promotes civic engagement through programs that are unique, enriching, and open-minded. We equip people to better understand public affairs and government and on how they can be active leaders in local, state, national, and international communities. We partner with students, faculty, and community stakeholders to address and affect political, economic and social challenges. 



The Thomas B. Murphy Center carries forth the legacy of Georgia’s longest serving Speaker of the state House of Representatives. Thomas B. Murphy was an advocate of societal change and influence through the mechanisms of governmental institutions, and he was a major proponent of civic engagement. UWG’s Murphy Center shares the values of not only Speaker Murphy but promotes an appreciation for the core values of America freedom, liberty, justice, equality, civility, and service.

Goals and Priorities

The Murphy Center directs resources and emphasizes the following priorities:

  • Building a foundation in civic education and engagement
  • Promoting public awareness and knowledge on public issues and practical politics
  • Establishing a relationship with electoral politics
  • Focusing on professional and career development
  • Advancing the liberal arts education and research for the public good


The Murphy Center

  • Organizes and coordinates LeadershipUWG, a student leadership initiative;
  • Hosts the annual Thomas B. Murphy Lecture Series;
  • Directs student internships;
  • Coordinates faculty and visitor colloquia, workshops, and conferences to bring awareness to and support the development of community-based scholarship and political learning;
  • Helps raise the level of public awareness about and responsiveness to public issues;
  • Foster an understanding of ethics and social justice;
  • Organizes and directs focused research on public issues and develops new models, provides expertise, creates linkages to support public impact activities, and helps initiate and guide public policy decision-making;
  • Collaborates with community organizations to define and prioritize the issues on which academic research focuses;
  • Offers funding opportunities for individual faculty members, visitors, students and student organizations to subsidize community-based research and engagement activities.


Many civic, community and government engagement activities are administered through the Murphy Center for Public Service. The Center has organized and hosted forums on a wide variety of regional and state issues. The Center’s current director has provided lectures on the life and political legacy of Speaker Murphy to different civic organizations and political gatherings throughout the state of Georgia. In addition, the Center has sponsored student trips to the Georgia Capitol in order for students to witness the state’s legislative session in action. The Murphy Center along with the department’s Political Science Club and the American Democracy Project has held voter registration drives before major elections.


The Murphy Public Center for Public Service utilizes the resources of the University of West Georgia’s Office of Public Service and Outreach as well as the Department of Civic Engagement and Public Service to fulfill its mission and objectives. It has offices in the University of West Georgia’s Pafford Hall and also in the Ingram Library. The Murphy Center for Public Service is currently housed in University College and is overseen by executive director Dr. Karen Owen, Assistant Professor of Political Science.

Murphy Distinguished Lecture Series

2022 Dag Folger "Critical Topics in Education" Speaker Series Presents: Rodney Walker. March 3, 2022 in the Campus Center Ballroom.

Murphy Center Distinguished Lecture Series

Spring 2024 Events

Monday, April 15 @ 6:30 PM: "Cloudy with A Chance of Science: Using the lens of weather to explain how perceptions are shaped" (Dr. Marshall Shepherd, Associate Dean for Research, Scholarship and Partnership, University of Georgia) in Murphy Reading Room, Ingram Library

Dr. Shepherd uses is his experience as an atmospheric scientist, professor, and public intellectual to discuss how perceptions about science are shaped. He uses contemporary events, scientific literature, and personal experiences to deliver a compelling yet accessible discussion for public audiences. Dr. Shepherd is routinely called by major media outlets, the White House, and Congress to share is expertise on weather or climate issues.

Lecture Series

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Spring 2023 Sessions

Fall 2022 Sessions

Spring 2022 Sessions


Director of Murphy Center

Dr. Karen L. Owen, Interim Dean of University College
Department of Civic Engagement and Public Service
TLC 3234