MURRAY, GROVER ELMER (1916-2003) ~ Grover Elmer Murray, Geologist and President of Texas Tech University, was born October 26, 1916, in Maiden, North Carolina, to Grover E. and Lucy Lore Murray. Later, he and his family moved to Newton, North Carolina, where he grew up and attended school. Murray attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he earned a BS in Geology. He then went on to earn his masters and Ph.D. from Louisiana State University.
After his academic career, Murray worked from 1942 to 1948 at the Magnolia Petroleum Company in Jackson, Mississippi as an exploration geologist. In 1948, he was offered and took the position of professor of stratigraphic geology at LSU. It was at this time his doctoral dissertation was published. In addition to teaching, Murray was Director of Research for the State Geology Survey and was the Geology Department Chair from 1950-1955. In recognition for his exceptional talents as a geological researcher and administrator, the University bestowed upon Murray the title of Boyd Professor, the highest academic rank in 1955. Between the years of 1955 and 1961, while teaching, Murray wrote a book, Geology of the Atlantic and Gulf Coast Province of North America , which was based on his lectures given at LSU. In addition to the book, Murray published over 55 papers on stratigraphy and related subjects by 1961. In 1963, Murray was promoted to Vice-President and Dean of Academic Affairs at LSU; becoming Vice-President for Academic Affairs for the entire University system in 1965. It was during this time that he was summoned to serve as President over a college situated on the Panhandle Plains of Lubbock, Texas Technological College.
On February 7, 1966, it was announced that Grover E. Murray would take the position as the 8th President of Texas Technological College. His inauguration was held on November 1, 1966, the largest seen at the College. The inauguration included representatives from nearly 200 institutions around the world, along with color guards from the US Air Force and the Tech Army ROTC. Former Mexican President Emilio Protes Gil, the US Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall, Governor John Connally, Lt. Governor Preston Smith, and Lawrence S. Rockefeller, to name a few, were also present.
As President, Murray saw to the expansion of the College. He increased the physical size of the campus through enrollment and faculty. He helped solve the controversy of the name change to Texas Tech University, implemented the construction of 17 new buildings, a museum, and he even hired a new football coach. Murray was able to acquire $130 million to build new law and medical schools.
Beginning in the 1950s, West Texans had expressed a desire to have their own medical school. In the late 1960s a serious pursuit in the legislature to obtain a medical school took place. Murray was instrumental in helping obtain legislative, coordinating board and regional approval for the school. On May 27, 1969, H.B. 498 was signed by the governor creating the Texas Technological College School of Medicine at Lubbock. The role of Governor Preston Smith, a resident of Lubbock, in bringing about the medical school was significant. The school was part of his vision for higher education in Texas and his tireless effort to improve health care in West Texas. The medical school was built on 250 acres of the University's campus. It officially accepted 61 students in its first August 1972 class. By 2004, the number of physicians produced by the medical school numbered 2,500.
Murray's visionary plan of studying arid climates and the physiological effects of such climates, would help facilitate the studies done at the school. Tech, situated in the dry, dusty plains, was perfect for this type of research. The study eventually developed into ICASALS - International Center for Arid and Semiarid Land Studies, whose programs and research have reached every continent on Earth. While there are several arid land centers, ICASALS is the only research center in the world that is completely multi- and interdisciplinary.
Grover Murray worked as a geological consultant for over four decades, participating in oil and gas discoveries in central Australia, Louisiana and Mississippi. In addition, he carried out significant research in Mexico, working with PEMEX geologists to find new information about remote areas. He made several trips to Antarctica, as a representative of the National Science Board in order to investigate work being done by scientists with National Science Foundation grants. On one such trip, fossils had just been discovered that were known to be helpful in proving the existence of the prehistoric continent of Pangea. The National Science Board recognized his interest in Antarctica and years of service by naming Murray Foreland, an ice covered peninsula that projects into the Amundsen Sea, in his honor.
Throughout Murray's life, he served on many boards and was part of numerous committees, associations and foundations. He received numerous awards for his work, including the AAPG Sidney Powers Memorial Award, SEPMs Twenhofel Medal, the Ian Campbell Medal of the American Geological Institute, the Ben H. Parker Medal of the American Institute of Professional Geologists, the Hollis D. Hedberg Award in Energy, and the Antarctica Service Medal. Grover Murray received distinguished Alumni Awards from UNC and LSU and in 1986, he was named Texas Distinguished Scientist. Grover E. Murray passed away May 22, 2003 in Lubbock, Texas. A cenotaph is placed at the Texas State Cemetery in honor of his service to the Texas Tech University and the students.
Rushing, Jane and Nall, Kline. Evolution of A University: Texas Techs First Fifty Years. 1975. Madonna Press, Austin, TX. Pp. 152-155.
Picou,Jr., Edward B. http://www.gcssepm.org/special/murray.htm May 13, 2004.
Lubbock Avalanche Journal Editorial Saturday May 24, 2003.
Information provided by Mrs. Sally Murray