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 at Government House, Brisbane

A Reception in honour of the 50th Anniversary of the Alumni Friends of The University of Queensland

Our 25th Governor of Queensland, and Patron, the Honourable Penelope Wensley; ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests as are you all.

Kaye and I are delighted to welcome you to Government House for this celebration, the celebration of fifty years of the Alumni Friends of The University of Queensland.

The opening of The University of Queensland in 1909 was a major occasion for our State, one which continues to reverberate wonderfully through the historical and social development of Queensland… and indeed beyond, because as we proudly know, the University’s reach is now truly global.

As Alumni ourselves, Kaye and I and our three children maintain a special affection for the University.

It is woven through our lives, as it is woven through the lives of you all here tonight.

It is also conspicuously woven through the life of this very Office.

As the most recent vice-regal resident of Fernberg – and the sixth consecutive UQ graduate in the Office, I can only reflect how very proud the first Governor to live here, Sir William MacGregor, would have been to behold tonight’s uplifting gathering.

A scholar, a scientist and a statesman, Sir William MacGregor rose from humble beginnings to study at the University of Aberdeen.

He was one of many Scottish sons of the Enlightenment to have a profound impact on the development of higher education in Australia.

Unanimously elected as the University’s first Chancellor, at its opening he spoke of his hope that the institution would “radiate light and life’ throughout the State’s education system. 

Reflecting on the meaning and purpose of a modern university, he reached back to Heraclitus who said that “Much learning does not endow a man with the seeing mind” – perhaps rather provocative on such an occasion!

More encouragingly, Sir William went on to endorse higher education as a means “to give greater fullness of life and encouragement to activity, teaching how to think, to see, understand and utilize the movements of the time in reaching forward towards a grander future.”

I do think that in this Alumni gathering, Sir William MacGregor would see his vision fulfilled.

As indeed would Vice-Chancellor Sir Fred Schonnell, under whose visionary Vice-Chancellorship the Alumni Association – the first organisation of its kind in Australia – was established in 1967 to connect current and future alumni and friends, and to support UQ’s wider mission.

The Latin noun alumnus is derived from the verb alere, meaning "to nourish”.

And so tonight Kaye and I acknowledge with gratitude the immense contribution the Alumni Friends make to nourishing and developing The University of Queensland’s distinctive character.

We congratulate all Alumni Friends of the organisation’s golden jubilee, and we wish you many more years of success as you foster beneficial relations among current and future Alumni and the wider community. Thank you.