Mary Baldwin University’s plans to establish graduate programs in health sciences first emerged in 2009 when faculty met to discuss new graduate programs and soon after, health sciences was identified as a high-growth field that would be a good fit for future expansion of Mary Baldwin. After a feasibility study, finding a lead donor, and a Board of Trustees vote in 2011, the college officially announced the plan to launch graduate programs in physical therapy, occupational therapy, and physician assistant studies. College officials chose the site in Fishersville in early 2012 and, at the same time revealed the lead donor, Bertie Murphy Deming Smith ’46 and the name of the new venture: the Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences, which welcomed the first class of students in June 2014.
“Health Sciences programs offer new opportunities that are central to our mission and responsive to the market. They build upon Mary Baldwin College’s longstanding commitment to the liberal arts and sciences and undergraduate research.” – Dr. Pamela Fox, President
Bertie Murphy Deming Smith ‘46 spent just two years as a student at Mary Baldwin University, but her continued generosity will advance the institution for generations to come. The philanthropist’s most recent contribution is the single largest donation in the school’s history: a $15 million lead gift to launch the Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences, with three new graduate programs that significantly expand the academic scope of Mary Baldwin University. Smith’s longtime support is celebrated with the Bertie Wilson Murphy Distinguished Chair in Business administration — created in honor of her mother — and the Bertie Murphy Deming Distinguished service award. Her investments culminated in the construction of Deming Fine Arts Center and have contributed significantly to Mary Baldwin University’s most recent fundraising campaign. After two years as a student at the school — where Smith was a member of the Spanish club and served as president of her sophomore class — she earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas. She would later receive an honorary doctor of humanities from Mary Baldwin University. She is the mother of two daughters and two sons and survives her late husbands, John Deming and Joe Smith. Her father founded Murphy Oil Corporation, which remains under family leadership. Smith served on the Mary Baldwin University Board of Trustees for 30 years and is now trustee emerita.