Suzane Murphy

Photo: Michael Paras

Suzanne Murphy, B.A.’87

A Lifelong Love of Books

By Claudia Ricci, Ph.D.’96 

Earlier this year, UAlbany accepted into its Presidential Scholars program Sophia, the daughter of alum Suzanne Murphy. Understandably, Murphy is proud of her daughter.

She is also very grateful to the University for her own education, which helped her to launch a highly successful 30-year career in children’s book publishing. Last May, Murphy was named president and publisher of HarperCollins Children’s Books, overseeing the operations of the company’s entire children’s division.

At UAlbany, Murphy majored in English and double minored in political science and history. She took full advantage of Albany’s offerings – both on and off campus. 

Living on State Quad, she was the first freshman in her dorm to take a bus downtown “to find out what was going on.” Murphy recalls, “It was really beautiful being in the state capital with all of its history and politics.” 

She also held down a job while in college, working at Albany Savings Bank in Colonie Center as a part-time teller.

Originally from Ossining, N.Y., Murphy was drawn to UAlbany because of its size and the breadth of its course offerings. In addition to completing her studies, she tutored teaching assistants in the Educational Opportunities Program, which caters to a wide diversity of students.

Her English classes – and what was then the brand-new Writers Institute – “infused me with a love of books,” Murphy says. “I gravitated to courses that really gave me a new perspective on the world.” She wrote for the ASP for two years and later co-chaired the campus Telethon, a 24-hour televised pledge campaign to raise money for children’s charities. Students would audition to perform music, comedy, juggling or other routines. Murphy and her co-chair organized the campaign and also hosted an hour of the pledge drive on local TV.

It was during the spring of her junior year that Murphy visited the Career Center and ended up with an internship in publicity and marketing at Dell. There were four interns at Dell that summer, but Murphy was the only student representing a state university.

After she graduated, Dell hired her for a full-time job as a publicity assistant. From there, Murphy worked in positions at Simon & Schuster and Random House before landing a job as vice president of Marketing and Publicity at Scholastic Trade publishing. While at Scholastic, she shepherded the publication of major best-selling books, including the Harry Potter series and The Hunger Games trilogy. From there, she joined Disney Publishing Worldwide as vice president, publisher, spending five years in that position. Murphy says she was “crazy lucky” to get the top job at HarperCollins last year. It thrills her to walk down the halls and see so many classic, beloved children’s books, including Goodnight Moon, Where the Wild Things Are, Charlotte’s Web and The Chronicles of Narnia.

Since her daughter’s acceptance by UAlbany, Murphy says, the University “has been very much” on her mind. Should Sophia select UAlbany, she would be the third generation in the family to do so, as Murphy’s mother-in-law attended what was then the state university’s teaching college in the 1950s.

Looking back, Murphy says she credits UAlbany “for so many things, but particularly my lifelong love of books and working to make the lives of children and families better through reading.”


Next: Chris Corrado, B.S.'81