News from Cass Business School

Obituary - Professor Hugh Murray, BA, MA, PhD

Thursday, 30 April, 2009

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. Sound familiar?

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.

Shelagh HeffernanAssociate 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!
Allan WilliamsEmeritus Professor

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.

Shiv MathurEmeritus Research Fellow

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