Faculty Member Deb Murray Leads New Viterbo Doctorate Program

Deb Murray stepped onto the Viterbo campus as a freshman student in 1986. Today, she leads Viterbo’s new Educational Doctorate in Counselor Education and Supervision program. The first cohort of students began classes in January.

“I worked hard for this Ed.D. program,” said Murray, who also heads the university’s Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling program. “It is the first of its kind in Wisconsin. It will provide master’s level clinicians with the skills required to become leaders in counselor education, supervision, and advanced counseling. This fills an important need, and it is the next place for us to grow. It is going to be fun. We have a nice group of people from varied backgrounds in the first cohort. As the Sisters say, ‘risk boldly.’”

Murray earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Viterbo and a master’s degree in counseling and psychological services from Saint Mary’s University. She completed a doctoral degree in counseling and psychology from St. Thomas University. She began at Viterbo as an adjunct instructor in 1994 and became a full-time faculty member the next year. She also practiced in behavioral health at Mayo Clinic Health System, La Crosse for 16 years.

“We’d send our students off to graduate school and I’d end up supervising them during their counseling clinical,” Murray said. “Then Viterbo academic vice president Jack Havertape recommended we look into a counseling program. We did a feasibility study and really paid attention to the results. We needed a program with a predictable schedule in which students could keep their professional jobs and go to school at the same time.”

The Viterbo Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling program was a big hit. It was so successful thanks in part to achieving accreditation by the ­Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs. Murray said the new doctorate is a natural extension of the master’s program.

“This new program fits perfectly with the Sisters’ mission to serve the underserved by increasing access to services in mental health care,” Murray said. “It’s perfect for what we want to do.”