With warm and fond memories, The Murphy Institute pays tribute to Ruth Carter who passed away in February 2021. Ruth worked at The Murphy Institute for 30 years until her retirement in 2018, serving as the Program Manager under two different directors. Ruth had a tremendous impact on generations of students, faculty, and colleagues who had the privilege to know her and work with her.
Ruth was both the administrative face and anchor of The Murphy Institute. Anyone who called or visited the Murphy suite in Tilton Hall was greeted by Ruth. She handled all requests and inquiries with aplomb. Everyone came away feeling they were listened to, even if their requests were ultimately not honored. She exhibited patience when others might have been exasperated, calm when others would have been flustered, and, above all, dealt with all people with a natural diplomacy.
Ruth had a deep understanding of the history and mission of the Murphy Institute. She understood what motivated the Board and what principles were important to uphold. When others asked her advice on particularly difficult issues or sensitive matters, Ruth provided right-minded and thoughtful advice and steered us in the proper directions. Ruth also had a keen, practical political sense, providing guidance to the leaders of the Institute as they navigated the university.
Universities deal in words. Those who worked with her knew that Ruth was extraordinarily smart and especially adept with language. In her earlier days, Ruth had worked at a newspaper and brought her careful eye to all of the written products of the Institute. No error escaped her proofreading. In her gentle way, she would offer suggestions for substantial improvements in manuscripts. The directors for whom she served relied heavily on these skills.
During her last decade at the Murphy Institute, Tulane increasingly adopted new and ever-changing electronic systems across all dimensions of administration. Ruth was a traditionalist and would have preferred a pencil-and-paper approach, but she plunged in, learned all the new systems, and later taught others how to navigate our increasingly complex technological world.
Ruth had a wonderful sense of humor and a delightful disposition. She helped make The Murphy Institute a welcoming place. She celebrated The Murphy Institute’s traditions like the Senior Dinner that make the Institute special. She assisted new faculty and staff in acclimating to Tulane. All of us who worked with her were better for the experience and enjoyed the time we spent with her. Her positive influence continues in the culture of the Institute today.
Established in memory of Charles H. Murphy, Sr. (1870-1954), and inspired by the vision of Charles H. Murphy, Jr. (1920-2002), The Murphy Institute exists to help Tulane faculty and students understand economic, moral, and political problems we all face and think about. More important, it exists to help us understand how these problems have come to be so closely interconnected.