Langham Dale Murray was Registrar of Unisa from 1934 to 1953. In 1973, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Administration.


Murray was named after his great-uncle Sir Langham Dale, who was instrumental in founding Unisa’s predecessor, the University of the Cape of Good Hope. Born in Cape Town, he graduated from Victoria College, Stellenbosch, in 1911. A Rhodes Scholarship took him to Oxford, but his studies were interrupted by the First World War. He saw active service and was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for bravery. Murray joined Unisa in 1919 and became Registrar during a moment of crisis — “a battle for the soul of Unisa” was underway between those who were loyal to the University’s British roots and those who wanted it to become an Afrikaans institution. Murray steered an ambiguous course between humble servant to the British Empire and supporter of Afrikaner interests. He also guided Unisa through the vast administrative complications caused by the Second World War, drawing on his characteristic courtesy and “astonishing memory” throughout.  Murray was initially sceptical about the newly formed Division of External Studies in 1946 sowing the seeds of disunity between the university’s teaching section and the administration.