Richard Murie, 88, oldest graduate at University of Arkansas Special
Murie was the oldest graduate at the University of Arkansas' Commencement where he received a Master of Arts in Spanish at the age of 88, and he has more goals in mind.
Prior to the Commencement ceremony, Murie shared his thoughts about earning the master's degree in Spanish. "It's what I've been striving for in the last five years," he said. "One of the final goals I will have."
Murie set and accomplished many goals through the years. Early on, he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from Ohio University in Athens, and he holds a Master's degree and Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry from Iowa State University.
In addition, Murie served his country. He was a Petty Officer First Class in the United States Navy where he served from 1943 through 1946. "I was on the USS Nevada
during the North Atlantic crossing and was in on D-Day," Murie said. D-Day
occurred June 6, 1944 and was the day on which the Allied forces invaded Normandy, France during World War II.
He and his Ph.D. in Chemistry were put to work at companies like Monsanto and General Motors. After retiring from GM, Murie and his wife moved to Bella Vista, Arkansas in 1993.
Murie who had taken some Spanish classes during his undergraduate years, and is simply fascinated by the language, history, and culture, teaches Conversational Spanish at Northwest Arkansas Community College's branch location in Bella Vista called the College at the Crossing
(CATC). The classes he teaches are non-credit, personal enrichment courses for residents of the area. Murie explained that after finding out that he would need a master's degree in order to teach credit courses, and after the death of his wife, he decided to pursue the graduate degree. "This degree will allow me to teach at a community college," said Murie.
After listening to keynote speaker Alice Walton
, Murie and many others were recognized as graduates during the All-University Commencement on May 12. He was the oldest among the estimated 2,700 students to receive their degrees. Murie walked across the stage, assisted by longtime friend, Dr. Otilia Iancu, and was greeted by Todd Shields, UA Dean of the Graduate School and International Education.
When asked about the biggest challenge to obtaining this graduate degree in Spanish, Murie said, "The biggest challenge is getting some of the essays done. I read a lot more than is necessary because I don't hear a lot of what is said in class, so I read extra to make up for it."
Murie was assisted by fellow students, like Juliana Antonio, who took class notes for him. As nwaonline reports
, Antonio, who received a master’s degree in Spanish literature on Saturday, said students were never exactly sure of Murie’s age. “We knew he was around his 80s, but that was it. It was always a mystery. He’s a legend. We’d call him, ‘Sir Richard.’”
At the conclusion of the ceremony, with newly awarded degrees in hand and goals and opportunities awaiting them, graduates exited Bud Walton Arena. What's in store for Richard Murie? Murie said that earning his master's degree in Spanish was only one of his final goals. As mentioned, Murie wants to teach at a community college, but he also has other plans in mind. "I would like to get a grant to go to Mexico and write a book on the most prominent cathedrals in Mexico and their role in the major conquests of Mexico," Murie said. He indicated that he would "like to do more studies of individual churches, when they were constructed, and their role in the evangelization of indigenous people."
Good luck, Dr. Murie! You've accomplished every goal you've set your inquisitive mind to, so it wouldn't be a surprise to see a book by Richard Murie on the bookshelves in the near future.