Jim Murren attended Roger Ludlowe High School in Fairfield, Conn., where he played football and baseball and was a member of the National Honor Society. Murren received his undergraduate degree at Trinity College, where he studied art history and urban studies and attended Caesari Barbieri Center in Rome, Italy. He joined the Wall Street firm of Cyrus J. Lawrence as a securities analyst, and earned the Chartered Financial Analyst certification in 1991. He was elected a member of the firm's Board of Directors, becoming the youngest member ever of the company's board. During his career on Wall Street he brought about a pivotal recapitalization of MGM Grand, Inc. in 1996, and served as a Managing Director and the Director of U.S. equity research for Deutsche Bank.
In 1998, he moved to the corporate sector, joining MGM as CFO and member of its Board of Directors. In 1999, he became President, and was promoted to Chief Operating Officer in 2007; he became Chairman and CEO in December 2008, his 10th year at the company. Under his tenure, the company embarked upon an extremely successful decade of growth. Murren was the architect of $15 billion of acquisitions including Primadonna Resort & Casino in 1998, Mirage Resorts in 2000, and Mandalay Resort Group in 2005—acquisitions that helped transform MGM into the world's largest gaming company. He was repeatedly honored as the gaming and lodging industry’s top CFO by Institutional Investor magazine. 
In 2008-09, Murren led an extensive reorganization of the company, resulting in over $500 million of annual savings; this, together with a $3.8 billion financing effort, kept the company from failure during the early days of the Great Recession in 2008 and 2009. John Mack, Chairman and CEO of Morgan Stanley said that "Jim’s background and experience with financial markets, management and operations has enabled him to provide exceptional leadership to MGM during an unprecedented period of turbulence in the economy and capital markets." 
During Murren's tenure, MGM joined with Dubai World in the development of the Las Vegas Strip's CityCenter. When CityCenter opened in December 2009, it represented the largest single private development and the largest green project ever undertaken in the nation’s history and America’s number one generator of new jobs during the Great Recession. Senator Harry Reid said, "The Las Vegas community may never be able to express its appreciation adequately for all that Jim has done, but his hard work hasn't gone unnoticed. ... He is a leader of his generation in job creation, green investment and philanthropy." Somer Hollingsworth, President and CEO of the Nevada Development Authority, called CityCenter "the most exciting and impactful project to open for the foreseeable future.” Under Murren’s leadership, MGM broke ground on May 1, 2014, on another major project in Las Vegas: a privately financed, state-of-the-art, 20,000-seat arena that it is developing with sports and entertainment company AEG. 
Murren is chair of the American Gaming Association Board of Directors, the national trade association for the commercial gaming industry, and is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Brookings Institute. In 2013, he was named Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Corporate Responsibility Officers Association, a professional society for corporate responsibility practitioners. He was named by President Obama to serve on the National Infrastructure Advisory Council.
He was recognized as Executive of the Year by Casino Journal in 2013.
During 2011, according to Forbes, Murren's total remuneration from MGM was $9.9 million, including $2 million in salary. 
Over the years, he has been a pioneer in the area of corporate diversity. Among the company's management ranks, more than 38 percent are minorities and nearly 43 percent are women. During Murren's tenure as Chairman & CEO, the company has continued to garner wide recognition for its leading diversity and inclusion initiatives, such as: 40 Best Companies for Diversity (Black Enterprise Magazine), Top 10 Companies for Latinos (DiversityInc Magazine), Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality (Human Rights Campaign Foundation), Top 10 Regional Companies (DiversityInc), and top 100 Companies for MBA Students (Universum Global).
Murren's leadership has evolved MGM Resorts' separate diversity, philanthropy and sustainability efforts into a cohesive corporate responsibility framework, and has more deeply integrated them into the company's mission, culture and operations. He has strengthened each pillar of the company's responsibility measures and through the innovative Inspiring Our World cultural show, has extended to all of MGM Resorts' 62,000 employees an understanding and appreciation of the meaning and impact of the company's responsibility programs.
Corporate Responsibility (CR) Magazine, a preeminent publication which recognizes America's most socially responsible chief executives, named Murren a 2013 Responsible CEO of the Year Award winner. The annual awards are presented to CEOs across industries that clearly exceed standards in the areas of employee relations, environmental impact, human rights, philanthropy, and corporate responsibility practices.
He founded the Nevada Cancer Institute and actively supports Trinity College, The Johns Hopkins University, the Fisher House Foundation for veterans and military families, and other non-profit organizations. He currently serves as an executive in residence at Johns Hopkins University's Carey Business School.
- [Institutional Investor, Feb. 12, 2004 and March 8, 2007 ]
- James Murren - News, Articles, Biography, Photos
- People: MGM RESORTS INTERNATIONAL (MGM)
- James J. Murren profile - Forbes
- Mack, John. Chairman and CEO of Morgan Stanley, 2009
- Business Wire
- PR Newswire
- Las Vegas Review Journal
- Council for a Better Nevada
- Council for a Better Nevada
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- "CR Magazine Announces Responsible CEO of Year Award and Lifetime Achievement Award Finalists". Corporate Responsibility Magazine. Retrieved 23 January 2014.