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Chico State

Dennis Murphy to Receive Honorary Degree

Dennis Murphy stands in the Concrete Lab, which his donations helped renovate.
Jason Halley / University Photographer

Dennis Murphy (Civil Engineering Alumnus, ’94) is being awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters on May 19, 2018.

I am very pleased to announce that University partner and business leader Dennis P. Murphy will be awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters (LHD) degree during Commencement on Saturday, May 19, 2018. The degree will be conferred by the Board of Trustees of the California State University in the name of the CSU and California State University, Chico to recognize Mr. Murphy’s extraordinary ongoing commitment to CSU, Chico and his extensive philanthropic efforts that benefit communities throughout Oregon and Washington.

After Mr. Murphy graduated from CSU, Chico with a degree in civil engineering in 1994, he accepted a job with Hayden Homes, a company dedicated to building high-quality residential communities throughout the Pacific Northwest. He was promoted to president of the company in 1999 and held the position until 2015, when he became its CEO. He has over 20 years of experience in construction, engineering and development, and his relentless pursuit of creating a positive corporate culture at Hayden Homes has resulted in abundant growth and financial success, with annual revenue in excess of $425 million. He completed the Owner/President Management Program at Harvard Business School in 2006.

He embodies an incredible spirit of generosity that drives Hayden Homes’ philanthropy, which was inspired by founder Robert Hayden’s mother, Virginia. Mr. Murphy has carried her legacy and believes that we should live in a world where we give more than we get. He continues to demonstrate this generosity and compassion through his support of the less fortunate, children, higher education, and other causes. One of his hopes is that by leading by example, he will inspire others to follow a similar path.

Civil engineering majorJeff Krumdieck gives Murphy (Civil Engineering, ’94) a tour of students’ concrete canoe and tiny house projects during his visit to campus in 2016.

From supporting local economies to supporting employees’ charitable efforts and partnering with nonprofits, Mr. Murphy and his company aim to build quality homes and stronger communities in equal measure. To that end, it donates a portion of the sales price in each buyer’s name on every home it builds to its related nonprofit, First Story (formerly the Hayden Enterprises Giving Fund), to help provide shelter and housing security to people who might otherwise go homeless, make home ownership possible for working families, and advance the work of nonprofits in Oregon and Washington. When Mr. Murphy founded First Story in 2001, he set a goal of building one home a year. This year, First Story dedicated its 68th new home for disadvantaged families. To date, First Story has donated more than $1 million to charitable organizations providing food, shelter, emergency relief, and basic human services to children, seniors, veterans, and others in need. Additionally, Hayden Homes provides a 100 percent company match for every dollar employees donate to the worthwhile nonprofit—together contributing more than $9 million to communities throughout Oregon, Washington, and Idaho.

Mr. Murphy is additionally involved in numerous charitable causes, including Big Brothers Big Sisters, and professional organizations. Embodying the entrepreneurial spirit we at CSU, Chico aim to instill in our students and graduates, Mr. Murphy is also a winemaker at Caprio Cellars, a family-owned winery located in the heart of the Walla Walla Valley. The Cellars proudly donates a portion of its wine proceeds to First Story and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Oregon, where he has been a volunteer for 15 years and served as board chairman from 2003–2008.

The College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Construction Management recognized him as its “Alumni of the Year” in 2004, and in 2007, he was honored as a Distinguished Alumnus, one of the University’s highest honors.

His leadership and generosity have been instrumental in the tremendous success of CSU, Chico’s commitment to building a culture of philanthropy. Mr. Murphy is a longtime supporter who became a donor shortly after earning his degree. He has made gifts to support the Departments of Civil Engineering and Construction Management, an endowed scholarship in his name, and an endowed professorship in his and Hayden Homes’ name. He has also partnered with the Concrete Industry Management patrons to renovate the concrete lab as part of a comprehensive lab renovation in the College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Construction Management. Mr. Murphy credits the College’s learning laboratories, the University’s outstanding faculty, and the University’s commitment to project-based learning as the keys to his success.

Murphy and other patrons stand at a ribbon-cutting for the concrete lab.
Murphy’s $1 million gift supported an extensive renovation to the College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Construction Management”s Concrete Laboratory, which reopened for student learning and research in 2016.

Additionally, Mr. Murphy is an inaugural member of the Tower Society, supporting the leadership giving program at its highest level, and is a leading benefactor in the University’s first comprehensive campaign, Transform Tomorrow. In so doing, he makes a bold statement to other donors and our students to build a life defined by generosity, community, and family. By taking his investment in our people and programs to the next level, his impact is far-reaching and never-ending. In short, he helps us change lives every day.

Mr. Murphy joins an elite list of just over 500 honorary degree recipients across the CSU, as the system recognizes those who have demonstrated excellence in areas that benefit CSU campuses, the state, nation, world, or humanity. The CSU awarded its first honorary degree to then-President John F. Kennedy in June 1963 at San Diego State University. Mr. Murphy is Chico State’s 19th honorary degree recipient in the University’s 131-year history. Chico’s other influential awardees are:

  • Douglas K. Guerrero, Doctor of Humane Letters, 2017
  • Wendell J. Lundberg, Doctor of Science, 2013
  • Sandra Lerner, Doctor of Science, 2012
  • Edward Rollins, Doctor of Humane Letters, 2012
  • David C. Favor, Doctor of Humane Letters, 2010
  • Sheikha Lubna Bint Khalid Al Qasimi, Doctor of Science, 2009
  • Ken Grossman, Doctor of Humane Letters, 2008
  • Marilyn Wade Warrens, Doctor of Fine Arts, 2008
  • Jack L. Rawlins, Doctor of Science, 2007
  • Rafael Sanchez, Doctor of Humane Letters, 2007
  • Floyd English, Doctor of Science, 2005
  • Marshall Lloyd Ginter, Doctor of Science, 2004
  • Glen Toney, Doctor of Humane Letters, 2004
  • Steve G. Nettleton, Doctor of Humane Letters, 2003
  • Judy Lynn Sitton, Doctor of Humane Letters, 2003
  • Savio L.Y. Woo, Doctor of Science, 1998
  • Ernest L. Boyer, Doctor of Humane Letters, 1988
  • John F. O’Connell, Doctor of Humane Letters, 1985

Please join me in celebrating Mr. Murphy’s many accomplishments and the leadership and generosity he has demonstrated for our students, faculty, and staff. Together, we will transform tomorrow! 






President Gayle E. Hutchinson