Students enjoy the new Murphy's space.

By the fourth day of classes, freshmen music majors Katie Wethli and Nathan Ward had already decided that the new upper floor of Murphy’s was their favorite spot for socializing and getting homework done. Sitting across from each other in a “snug” (booth), they worked on their music theory assignment, tapping out rhythms with their hands.

“I’ve been here every day,” says Wethli of Pittsburgh. “It’s so comfortable and there is always good music playing in the background.”

“I love the windows. It’s so bright in here,” says Ward, of Longmont, Colo., pointing to the large windows that look out on campus.

The newly renovated, inviting space in the Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center features several large screen televisions, cozy seating, a fireplace, a pool table, and a sound system for entertainment.

First-year law students Ahad Khilji and Nathan Gniewek are playing a best-of-seven pool match. Khilji has already lost the match, but is playing the last game anyway — for pride, he says. They came straight from class, and when the match is done they are headed to the library for the rest of the afternoon.

“This is a perfect spot to take a break from classes and studying,” says Khilji, who received his B.A. in international relations from Catholic University in 2013. “I remember when this space was the bookstore. I always thought it could be better used as a spot for socializing.”  

After graduation, Khilji headed to South America with the Peace Corps, where he worked in Guyana to improve literacy rates.

“When I came back to campus to start law school, I couldn’t believe the changes,” he says mentioning, in addition to Murphy’s, the development of Monroe Street Market just off the south part of campus where his old residence hall once stood. “I’ve always been proud to be a Cardinal,” says Khilji. “But seeing these changes, and how they’ve energized our campus, I’m even more proud of this University and so excited to be back.”

This is just what the University had in mind when the vision and fundraising for Murphy’s commenced, says Mike Allen, vice president of student affairs. “The plan was for Murphy’s to become a comfortable gathering place for students located in the heart of our campus. We’re delighted that already at the start of this new academic year, that’s just what’s happening,” Allen says. “We’re equally excited about construction beginning soon on the lower level restaurant section of Murphy’s.”

Murphy’s is named for the late Michael Murphy, B.A. 1974, M.A. 1975. During his time at Catholic University, he was known for bringing people together. “He was often found ‘holding court’ in the Rathskeller, a lounge, restaurant, and pub that was housed in what is now O’Connell Hall,” says Frank Persico, vice president for University relations and chief of staff. “Mike’s dream was to recreate a similar gathering place for today’s students.” Persico and Murphy were classmates at Catholic University and lifelong friends.

At the unveiling of the plan for Murphy’s  last spring, Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley, O.F.M., CAP., M.A. 1972, Ph.D. 1978, chairman of CUA’s Board of Trustees, remembered Murphy. “His time as a student here set the course for the rest of his life including having met his beloved wife, Pat, the most important friendship of his life,” said Cardinal O’Malley.

“Michael envisioned this will be a place where students, faculty, and administration can gather for the spirited exchange of ideas, strengthening the bonds established in the Catholic University community,” said Cardinal O’Malley.

Many of Murphy’s fellow classmates began the fundraising efforts to build Murphy’s. Other friends and supporters of the University joined them. “It took the love and commitment of our donors to make this place a reality for our campus community. They are the reason these doors opened this fall. And you just have to stop by and look around to see how beautifully this vision has been realized,” Allen says.

Next week informal social events will kick off with Mondays @ Murphy’s.

Sept. 12, 7:10 p.m. - Monday Night Football: Steelers vs. Redskins 

Sept. 19, 8 p.m. - Premiere of The Voice 

Sept. 26, 9 p.m. - First Presidential Debate 

Oct. 3, 5 p.m. – Murphy’s Student Celebration 

Construction on the first-floor restaurant portion of Murphy’s is expected to begin in the coming weeks. Catholic University’s new Barnes & Noble Bookstore is located at Monroe Street Market.