The faculty and staff of the Coastal Studies Institute (CSI) were saddened by the recent announcement of the loss of a local icon and long-time supporter of CSI, Rev. A. Tom Murphy Jr.  Tom’s dedication to our community was evident in his 15-year ministry at Roanoke Island Presbyterian Church, as well as the many boards he served on including, Outer Banks Hotline, Children and Youth Partnership of Dare County, Citizens Advisory Council for Home Health and Hospice and the Dare County Higher Education Task Force.  Rev. Murphy’s work on the Dare County Higher Education Task Force helped lay the groundwork for a university presence in Dare County and ultimately resulted in the formation and funding of the Coastal Studies Institute.

In addition, Tom served on the Coastal Studies Institute’s Foundation Board, a fundraising arm of the Coastal Studies Institute.  On this board, Tom worked closely with CSI founding Director Dr. Nancy White to raise funds for educational initiatives throughout Dare County and the region.  “Tom Murphy was an invaluable asset to the founding and establishment of CSI. Not only was he tireless, but he understood on a very profound level the inherent value of a higher education program being located on the Outer Banks – not only to its citizens but as a resource to help understand and care for the many rare and special environments of the region.”, states Dr. Nancy White.   Dr. White served from 2003 to 2016 as CSI’s founding director.

ECU and CSI are indebted to Tom for his work to get higher education off the ground in Dare County.  “We are saddened to hear of the loss of such an influential man in our community.  Tom’s commitment to youth and education is evident in the legacy he leaves behind, we are forever grateful for the foundation that he and others created to make CSI and the ECU Outer Banks Campus possible”, states Dr. Reide Corbett, Dean of ECU Integrated Coastal Programs, and Executive Director of the Coastal Studies Institute.

Led by East Carolina University (ECU), The Coastal Studies Institute is a multi-institutional research and educational partnership of the UNC System including North Carolina State University, UNC-Chapel Hill, UNC Wilmington, and Elizabeth City State University.


ECU’s Integrated Coastal Programs (ECU ICP) is a leader in coastal and marine research, education, and engagement.   ECU ICP includes the Coastal Studies Institute, ECU’s Department of Coastal Studies, and ECU Diving and Water Safety.


The ECU Outer Banks campus is home to the Coastal Studies Institute.
Located on Roanoke Island along the banks of the second largest estuary
in the United States, this coastal campus spans 213 acres of marshes, scrub wetlands, forested wetlands, and estuarine ecosystems.




The faculty and staff at the Coastal Studies Institute come from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines, as well as departments and organizations including ECU Department of Biology, ECU Department of Coastal Studies, NC Sea Grant, the North Carolina Renewable Energy Program, and the UNC Institute for the Environment.


The CSI Board of Directors consists of professionals with strong backgrounds in coastal issues including research, development, outreach, education, and policies that affect coastal communities. The Board promotes the UNC System’s mission in helping it serve the people of North Carolina at a high level of excellence in every area of endeavor at the Coastal Studies Institute. The Board meets twice a year to discuss the projects and progress of CSI.


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Contact Info

The Coastal Studies Institute
850 NC 345
Wanchese, NC 27981



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