David Murray (1830-1905) was a professor of mathematics at Rutgers from 1863-1873. He was instrumental in creating the science curriculum at Rutgers College and successfully lobbied for Rutgers to become New Jersey’s land grant college in 1864. He was a teacher and friend to many Japanese students who came to Rutgers, including the Iwakura brothers and Hatakeyama Yoshinari. His home became a social center for the Japanese students in New Brunswick. “These young men referred to Dr. Murray’s residence as their “American Home” and spent much of their leisure time there.”1
One of the objectives of the Iwakura Mission was to search for a Western adviser for the newly formed Ministry of Education. In February 1872, prior to the Mission’s arrival to Washington D.C., Mori Arinori sent out letters to American educators seeking advice on developing a modern educational system in Japan. William H. Campbell, president of Rutgers College, passed the letter on to Murray. Murray’s response, which spans over more than twenty pages, offers the most comprehensive and detailed analysis of education and its impacts on modern society. His advice, addressed specifically to the needs of Japan and its people, includes establishment of universal education and education for women.2 Owing, perhaps, to the knowledge of Japan and the Japanese people he had acquired through his acquaintances with the Japanese students, he expresses confidence in the prospects of education in Japan and suggests a reform that retains its traditions and spirit.
Murray met with Kido Takayoshi and the members of the Iwakura Mission at least twice—once in Washington, D.C. (by then, Hatakeyama had joined the Mission), and again in Boston in August 1872, just before they sailed for England. In November, Kido and Tanaka Fumimaro met in London and agreed to offer Murray the position of the Superintendent of Education in the Ministry of Education. On January 10, 1873, Mori Arinori drew up a formal employment agreement, and David Murray left for Japan with his wife Martha in June 1873. Throughout his tenure in Japan until 1879, Murray worked closely with Tanaka and his former students, notably Hatakeyama. Murray is remembered today as one of the most influential figures in the history of modern Japanese education.