Obituary - Professor Hugh Murray, BA, MA, PhD
Professor Hugh Murray died at home on 3 April, 2009, aged 77, after an eight year battle
with prostate cancer. He will be remembered by many MBA alumni who graduated in the
1980s and 1990s. Hugh was evacuated to North Wales during the blitz in World War II. Left
standing on the railway platform (Hugh had lost an eye after an accident aged 3); he said to
a Mr. and Mrs. Evans: “If you wanted a girl, there’s none left, and if you wanted a boy there’s
none left either. There’s only me.” He was taken in and shown great kindness. A clever child,
Hugh was a product of the British grammar school system and the first in his family to attend
university, followed by a career in industry and academia. Hugh leaves his wife Dorothy, four
children and nine grandchildren. Donations in his memory can be made to the Royal
Marsden, a leading international cancer hospital.
Thoughts and memories from friends at Cass
When I arrived at City University Business School (CUBS), the name by which Cass was
formerly known, Hugh Murray was what we would now call my "line manager", though the
term was completely unknown in academia at that time. Hierarchy didn’t mean a lot - the
prevailing ethos was that we should all work together as fellow scholars. The Dean, Brian
Griffiths (soon to move sideways to run 10 Downing Street), Hugh Murray and all of us were
delighted with the School’s new location in the Barbican, the heart of the City. It was
expensive real estate, so we were under pressure to pay our way, and we quickly outgrew it.
Hugh had a lovely warm personality and was a terrific optimist. Though the official "Big
Bang" was three years away, reforms aimed at increasing competition among financial firms
in the City were well underway, to maintain London’s position as a world class financial
centre. Hugh was a driving force here. The Business School was gearing up to appeal to
professionals working in the City, as well as students who aspired one day to join them. For
those with a passionate interest in banking and international finance, it was an exciting place
to be. On my first day as a young inexperienced lecturer, Hugh took me to lunch at a very
posh "Searcy’s" in the Barbican and enthusiastically suggested I organise a global banking
conference. Hugh’s unfailing support and confidence in my academic abilities had a
profound effect on my career. Thanks largely to Hugh, it was a wonderful time to be a
business school academic, despite the tempting “City” salaries.
As Midland Bank Professor of International Business and Export Management (IBEX) Hugh
headed up the IBEX MBA which, with an intake of about 100 per year, was the most popular
of several specialist MBAs taught at the School at the time. Other academics in Hugh’s
group included Alfred Kenyon and Shiv Mathur. We were very lucky to have Patti Davis who
provided superb administrative support and kept us out of mischief, while Liz Taylor ensured
MBA admissions were kept to a high standard. But nothing, not even smoke alarms, stopped
Hugh from continuing to smoke in his office, though he gave it up after he retired!
Hugh’s research focused on global business strategy and marketing. With his extensive and
distinguished business background, his wide horizons, and his deep learning, students loved
the unique combination of theory and practice Hugh brought to the classroom. His good
humour was infectious and the students thought the world of him. He was also famous for
his command of Latin and Greek, supplying stimulating daily quotes to students and staff
alike. But Hugh was no backward-looking fuddy duddy. In today’s parlance, Hugh was a
“teaching and learning” innovator: in addition to the IBEX programme, he developed the
Evening and Management MBAs to add to the School’s growing degree portfolio.
Hugh put his strong Christian principles to practice. If a colleague was ill, he made sure the
person and family were well looked after. Upon hearing the news that a lecturer’s child was
suffering from a particularly nasty tumour, Hugh immediately launched a campaign to fund
the family’s trip to the Continent so they could consult a renowned oncologist.
Hugh was absolutely devoted to Dorothy, his children and grandchildren, but treated his
University colleagues as a second family. He will be very sorely missed by both.
Associate Dean and Professor of Banking and Finance, Cass Business School
I concur with Shelagh's excellent account of Hugh. The School is heavily indebted to him.
He was very much an entrepreneur as demonstrated in the leading roles he played in
initiating the specialist stream of the full-time MBA in Export Management and International
Finance, in the Evening (now Executive) MBA, and in the Consortium MBA. His innovative
enthusiasm occasionally led to confrontation with the authorities at Northampton Square and
bureaucracy, but his virtues were able to overcome these little difficulties. A typical example
was when he had upset, through a misunderstanding, an individual in the Registrar's Office;
as a peace offering he duly wrote her a poem!
The most wonderful part of working with Hugh was his tremendous enthusiasm and
optimism. When we were just an insignificant business school Hugh had plans to transform
us into a leading institution. After a brief lunch with Hugh, forget LBS, most of us were
willing to take on Harvard: both on research and teaching and at the same time. Our present
achievements owe much to his ability to think big. And once people like Hugh have taught
us to think big it is impossible to think small again. Both as an institution and for many of us
as individuals Hugh changed our way of thinking: few people can do that.
Emeritus Research Fellow