Reg Murphy gets top job at National Geographic Sun's former publisher is succeeding Grosvenor

January 18, 1996|By Mark Hyman | Mark Hyman,SUN STAFF

Reg Murphy, a former publisher of The Baltimore Sun, has been elected to the top management post at the National Geographic Society, a job in which he will direct the ventures of one of the world's largest scientific and educational organizations.

Mr. Murphy, who joined National Geographic in 1993, will become president and chief executive officer May 1. He will succeed Gilbert M. Grosvenor, the society's president for the past 15 years and a member of the family that has run National Geographic for five generations.

The society's second president -- Mr. Grosvenor's great-grandfather -- was Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone.

Mr. Murphy, 62, said yesterday that he relishes the challenge of leading National Geographic, which boasts 9.2 million members worldwide.

"I never expected to do this. But when the challenge presented itself, there is just no turning away," said Mr. Murphy. "The opportunity to talk about human adventure in a world changing so rapidly is just at the top of any journalist's dreams."

Mr. Murphy said he didn't expect major changes in the society's ventures, which include National Geographic magazine, a children's magazine, television programs and, soon, a new line of computer products.

But new projects are under way, he said.

"There will not be a revolution, but we will go through evolutionary change," said Mr. Murphy, who noted that the society plans to introduce a web site on the Internet this spring and also is producing a line of CD-ROMs.

Mr. Murphy has been in charge of computer projects since he joined National Geographic three years ago. In his post as executive vice president, Mr. Murphy also oversaw the society's financial operations, long-range planning and administration, among other things.

At the time, Mr. Grosvenor held the top job. But he wanted to retire when he turned 65, society officials said. With that in mind, the National Geographic Board of Trustees voted the job to Mr. Murphy.

Mr. Murphy, who lives in Baltimore with his wife, Diana, and commutes daily to the society's Washington offices, has considerable experience taking control of businesses that have been run by families.

When he became publisher of The Sun in 1981, the newspaper DTC was family-owned. Before that, he worked in management of family-controlled newspapers in San Francisco and Atlanta.

Mr. Murphy said such family-run enterprises "have a character of their own, based around the goals and dreams of individuals rather than corporations."

He added that he expected his experiences working for newspaper companies such as those would be valuable.

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