Debra Murphy is a professor of art history and has been the inaugural chair of the Department of Art and Design since its formation in 2004. She joined the faculty of the University of North Florida in 1990. She earned a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Florida, a master's degree in art history from Florida State University, and a doctorate in art history from Boston University. She studied at the FSU Florence Italy campus as an undergraduate and graduate student. She has also taught for the FSU Florence Program and for the Trinity College (Hartford, Connecticut) summer Rome Program. She founded the UNF summer Italy Program in 2009. Her scholarly agenda includes sixteenth century Italian art and contemporary art, patronage, and collections in Florida. She has been recognized twice by UNF for outstanding undergraduate teaching, and the Cultural Council of Great Jacksonville gave her the Outstanding Art Educator award. She has also been recognized by UNF for Outstanding Faculty Service and Outstanding International Leadership. She was named the John Francis Reilly Fellow for Irish Studies to develop a course in Irish art and architecture. She has served on the MOCA Jacksonville Board of Trustees since 2000 and on its Executive Committee since 2009. Murphy has served on the Board of Directors for the Southeastern College Art Conference as well as its first vice president and its president. SECAC presented her with the Award for Exemplary Achievement in 2012 in recognition of personal and professional development as well as long-standing service to the organization. Murphy also currently serves as the chair of the UNF Council of Chairs.