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David Murray, 1935-2023
DPhil Oxon, Hon. Doctor The Open University of Hong Kong,
us Professor of the Open University UK
An academic historian with special interests and expertise in administrative,
constitutional and higher-education issues.

David nice photo.jpeg

The youngest son of the Congregationalist missionary Jowett Murray and the grandson of Sir James Murray, the founder of the Oxford English Dictionary, David was brought up in China, and worked for extensive periods in Hong Kong and several African and South Pacific countries. He was a founding member of the academic staff of the pioneering Open University, serving (twice) through formative periods as a Pro-Vice Chancellor; a long-time influential member of the UK’s Higher Education Quality Assurance Agency; and a key player in the development of the Open University of Hong Kong and, back in the UK, of Chester, Glyndŵr, and BPP Universities. During his time in both Nigeria and Fiji he was instrumental in setting up local research and training institutes in public administration.He played a key part in helping the local population of Kiribati (previously Gilbert Islands) and of Tuvalu (Ellice Islands) to frame their independence constitutions and (in the former case) to see it through an acrimonious Colonial Office Conference in London. One of the key points that emerged in the constitution discussions that, equal to equals, he and the then governor John Smith held with the people of Kiribati, was an agreement that they would not, unlike others, have an army (the Colonial Office mightily disagreed); it is noteworthy that Kiribati has been one of the very few, if any, ex-colonies never to have had a military coup but to have changed presidents constitutionally.

Besides extensive published course material for Open University students, his main publications are:
The West Indies and the Development of Colonial Government, 1801-1834.
Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1965.
The progress of Nigerian public administration, a report on research. (joint ed)
Institute of Administration. University of Ife, Nigeria, 1968.
The work of administration in Nigeria: case studies.
London, Hutchinson for the Institute of Administration, University of Ife, 1969.
Studies in Nigerian administration. (ed)
London, Hutchinson, for the Institute of Administration, University of Ife, 1

The governmental system in Southern Rhodesia.
Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1970.
Decisions, organizations, and society, selected readings. (ed with Frank Castles and David Potter). 
Harmondsworth, Penguin, for the Open University, 1971.
Public administration.
Open University, 1974.
The joys and troubles of a missionary. Jowett Murray (Draft photos) in the China of 1909-1945.              
Forthcoming, 2024. (Draft copy downloads to desktop.

Editorial work
Journal editor, Public Administration and Development, Wiley, 1980-1984.    

General editor, British documents on the end of empire [extensive monograph series], HMSO / British  Academy / Institute of Commonwealth Studies, 1988-1993.  

He is survived by his wife Ruth (aka the anthropologist Ruth Finnegan), and three daughters – Rachel, Kathleen, and Brigid – of whom he was immensely proud.

Memorial Order of Service (PDF) Friday 23rd February, 2024

For anyone wishing to make a donation in David’s memory, there is a collection at the Church for one of his favourite charities, The Woodland Trust. Alternatively, you are welcome to use the Just Giving website which is at:

If you wish to listen to the Service, a YouTube link has kindly been provided by the Church

Memorial Plaque, Open University, Heritage Garden

Plaque JH_edited.png

David's family and Ruth memories:  Tapestry Films

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