Philosophy Grad Finds His Calling in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Work

Jud Murchie ’01 followed a winding path from studying philosophy at Bethel to his current role as a diversity and inclusion strategy consultant at Wells Fargo—and it was his faith and passion for community-building that guided him along the way.

By Cherie Suonvieri '15, GS'21, content specialist

August 08, 2022 | 10:30 a.m.

Bethel alumnus Jud Murchie with his family

Jud Murchie with his wife, Biz, and two children, Vincent and Bella. The family spent spring break 2022 on a civil rights road trip.

The summer after his graduation from Bethel, Jud Murchie ’01 was working a variety of part-time jobs: he drove trucks, made home repairs, and built shovels and pitchforks in a small factory. “As you can imagine, there are many career paths for a philosophy major,” Murchie laughs. But by the end of the summer, he found a part-time job that marked the beginning of a new chapter in his career journey.  

On a mission trip, Murchie met someone who was a partner at a small consulting firm, and the firm was looking to hire someone who could edit documents and write one day a week. Soon enough, Murchie added the job to his collection of part-time gigs. “That just shows the value of a liberal arts education,” Murchie says. “At Bethel, I learned to write, edit, and think critically, and I was able to apply those skills broadly.” His part-time role soon became full time, and he advanced through the company for more than nine years. Then a story Murchie’s boss shared with him marked a turning point. 

His boss’ daughter who had recently graduated with a business degree admitted that she didn’t enjoy her chosen field. “My boss asked her daughter why she’d picked business if she hated it,” Murchie recalls. “And she said, ‘I realized that if I had a business degree, I’d always have a job—just like you’ve always had.’ My boss said that just broke her heart. The reason that she worked so hard was so that her daughter could choose a career she wanted.” 

Murchie realized he didn’t love his career path, but he knew he was passionate about economic development, equity, and policy work. His interest in justice work was sparked at Bethel when he took a course on racism and reconciliation, and it was further realized when he got involved in his Chicago-area community through his church. After some prayer and thought, he decided to pursue a master’s degree in urban planning and policy, which he completed in 2012. Then, he completed a Ph.D. program in public administration, with a focus on housing discrimination and microfinance. 

 

Jud Murchie celebrating his Ph.D. graduation from Syracuse University in 2017.

Jud Murchie celebrating his Ph.D. graduation from Syracuse University in 2017.

In 2017, shortly after his doctoral program, Murchie began working at Wells Fargo. He’s held several roles at the company since, but today he’s a diversity and inclusion strategy consultant who works with academic institutions, think tanks, and other organizations that do policy-related research. Murchie spends much of his time looking into financial inclusion and investigating the impact of societal trends. “As an example, white homeowners are more likely to have a will, so they’re able to pass their house from one generation to the next, allowing wealth to stay in the family,” Murchie explains. “But there are significant disparities because minority households are less likely to have wills in place, which means it’s harder to transfer that generational wealth. Those are the kinds of things we look into.” 

Another part of Murchie’s role is pulling other banks, policymakers, organizations, and regulators together to design more inclusive systems. He works primarily at the national level but is also involved in local initiatives in the Minnesota Twin Cities, as he and his family now live just a few blocks from Bethel.

Jud Murchie with American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association scholars

This year, Jud Murchie attended the annual American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association (AREUEA) conference in Washington, D.C. Here, he’s pictured with a group of aspiring scholars who are interested in public policy research careers related to real estate and urban economics. Murchie worked with AREUEA leadership to develop, fund, and launch the young scholars program to increase diversity among researchers in the field.

Murchie’s passion for justice work is rooted in his faith—which is something that he gets to engage fairly openly in his workplace. “I’m very privileged to work on a team where faith is central,” he says. “Having spent time in diverse communities, I’ve found that conversations around faith are much more comfortable, even if those faiths are different. I spend a tremendous amount of time working with civil rights leaders and civil rights organizations, and faith is at the center of almost every conversation.”

When Murchie was younger, he says, living out his faith meant making sure he was “checking the boxes” and doing right while avoiding wrong. But when he came to Bethel, he started engaging with big and challenging questions. He says Bethel faculty like Jim Beilby and Paul Eddy created spaces for him and his peers to ask and talk through those questions.

“Being able to [ask big questions] at Bethel really allowed me to never waiver in my faith as I got older, because it was a faith that I had developed myself.”

— Jud Murchie '01

Today, Murchie’s faith is less about “checking boxes” and much more about remaining grounded. “To do justice work every day, your feet have to be planted on something, because it’s hard. You see setbacks all the time,” he says. “But my faith gives me, and many of my colleagues, the strength to get up and continue the work each day.”  

When he looks back at his career path—from studying philosophy to his role today—Murchie says he hopes current students know that there are a variety of career paths they can take after graduating from Bethel. “The important thing is to figure out who you are. Learn who you are in Christ, but also figure out what makes you tick—what you’re good at, what you love to do, and what you can bring to the table—and be happy and comfortable with that,” Murchie says. “Bethel did that for me by enabling me to develop my own identity, and that’s been really central in my life and in my career.”

Study philosophy at Bethel.

In Bethel’s philosophy major, you’ll investigate some of life’s biggest questions and explore answers from a variety of traditions, equipping you to engage with some of the world’s most pressing problems from a distinctly Christian perspective. With critical thinking and analytical skills, you’ll be equipped for a variety of careers.

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