Long-time adjunct professor and transgendered pioneer within the Virginia Tech community D.W. Murphree passed away last Tuesday after an eight-month bout with cancer.
Known to those who knew her as Dayna, Murphree's given name was David, which she changed after undergoing a gender reassignment. She had been an adjunct professor of history, religion & culture and science and technology studies at Tech for the past 18 years.
She was the first openly transgendered faculty member at Tech, from which she earned her master’s in history in 1991. She had previously earned her bachelor’s in 1988 at Radford University.
Murphree made significant contributions to the Tech community with her work with the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) Caucus, where she was a faculty co-chair.
“Being the first transgendered co-chair, she brought a lot of understanding when she took that role. She conveyed energy and optimism about various things and approached them with a great sense of humor,” said communications director in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences and former LGBT Caucus co-chair, Jean Elliott.
Along with her contributions to the Tech LGBT community, Murphree also oversaw last year’s Lavender Commencement Ceremony, an annual celebration of LGBT students graduating with either a bachelor's or graduate degree.
An informal get-together was held last Thursday in front of Lane Hall to celebrate the contributions and achievements that Murphree accomplished over her lifetime.
The meeting, coordinated by science and technology studies assistant professor Ashley Shew Heflin, saw a large turn-out of people who came to honor Murphree.
“One thing I’ve realized over the past few months that Dayna has been ill is that she knew all of these little pockets of people throughout the community, and it’s easy to see that each pocket loved her more than the last,” Heflin said. “Her legacy will be one of ignition and inspiration - both in academics and in social justice. We will miss her very much.”