By Bridget Kelly, Senior Communication Major
Each year, the Villanova Department of Communication presents the Ethos Award to an individual who demonstrates ethos in his or her professional life. The Greek term ethos refers to a speaker’s ability to convey trustworthiness and authority on the topic at hand while also establishing credibility with audience members. Ethos is also the trait that a communicator establishes by demonstrating intelligence, virtue, and goodwill in his or her work. The award recognizes distinguished members of the Villanova community who demonstrate character, and in doing so, excellence in the field of Communication.
This year’s Ethos Award recipient is a popular and acclaimed faculty member, Dr. Billie Murray. Dr. Murray has been teaching in the Villanova Department of Communication since 2010 and was the former faculty advisor to the Alpha Rho chapter of Lambda Pi Eta (LPH), the National Communication Honor Society.
“I’m honored. I’m honored that the students wanted to recognize me in this way because I learned so much from them,” said Dr. Murray. “I really appreciate it.” Dr. Emory Woodward developed the Ethos Award in order to recognize an individual who has achieved great success and served as an ethical leader in the field of Communication. The LPH Executive Board reviews nominees each year and carefully selects a winner based on his or her accomplishments.
“Dr. Murray is so deserving of this award because of the sheer goodness with which she lives her whole life. As a professor she exudes wisdom, passion and a welcoming nature that is contagious,” said Jaquelin Valente, a senior communication major and outgoing LPH Executive Board member. “I could think of no one more worthy of this honor.”
As the LPH faculty advisor, Dr. Murray oversaw the development and implementation of a service program at Germantown High School in which LPH inductees work with Germantown students. “My favorite part about Lambda was developing the Germantown High School workshops,” said Dr. Murray. “I felt they were very fulfilling and were a great service opportunity for the inductees. It was also a really great way for me to get to know the students better.” The Villanova LPH inductees help the Germantown High School students learn professional communication skills and how to master the art of public speaking.
Dr. Murray is originally from South Carolina and graduated summa cum laude in Communication Studies and Political Science from the College of Charleston in 2000. After earning her B.A., she received her M.A. from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and finished with her doctorate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication at Villanova and serves as the department’s area coordinator for Rhetorical Studies.
At Villanova, Dr. Murray teaches undergraduate courses in Survey of Communication Studies, Theories of Rhetoric, Qualitative Research Methods, and Rhetoric and Social Justice. She has also taught graduate level courses in Strategic Communication Theory and Human Trafficking, a course taught in conjunction with Villanova’s Nursing and Law schools. As a rhetorical activist scholar, Dr. Murray believes that her research should contribute to social justice and the public good.
Recently, Dr. Murray has published a lead article in “Argumentation and Advocacy” about the politics of grief in public spheres of argument and a book chapter in “Communication Activism Pedagogy.” Her dedication to the Villanova Department of Communication, the Lambda Pi Eta Communication Honor Society, and to the general field of communication makes Dr. Murray a very deserving and distinguished Ethos Award recipient.