The University of Queensland End of Year Senate Dinner
Representing the Premier, the Member for Aspley; Chancellor; Deputy Chancellor; Vice-Chancellor; distinguished members of the Senate and the University’s Executive; ladies and gentlemen.
I thank Professor Terry for her kind invitation to speak at tonight’s End of Year Senate Dinner.
I at once acknowledge the traditional owners of the lands on which we tonight gather, extending respectful greetings to Elders and emerging leaders.
Just over one hundred and nine years ago, on the first of June 1911, Queensland’s eleventh Governor, Sir William MacGregor, addressed a large and enthusiastic crowd at the Exhibition Building in Bowen Hills not too far from where we gather tonight.
The occasion was to inaugurate the State’s first university, of which Sir William also became the first Chancellor.
Before dignitaries, politicians, academics and students, Sir William expressed his sincere hope that the University of Queensland would ‘radiate life and light’ through the State’s industries, and prepare its citizens for the highest duties of the State.
Reflecting on the illustrious achievements of those before me tonight – so many so proudly alumnae – we can be assured of stellar success in this regard.
Sir William was a beneficiary of a robust education influenced by the intellectual and scientific accomplishments of the Scottish Enlightenment.
His precocious and brilliant intellect propelled him from rural impoverished farm boy to medical doctor to distinguished colonial administrator and, eventually, university chancellor.
His other desire for the fledgling University of Queensland, forged through his experiences, was to instill it with the most rigorous standards of a British institution of higher learning.
Chief among them were a deep commitment to freedom of speech and academic enquiry, and an unwavering emphasis on scientific rigour, endeavour and discovery.
Ladies and gentlemen, the 105 UQ faces behind the quest for a COVID-19 vaccine plastered on the front page of the Courier Mail on 20 November powerfully reminds us that latter vision has also most certainly been fulfilled – as it has many times before, and as is reflected in the University’s one way trajectory up the international rankings.
While tonight we celebrate these and so many other successes – and by no means are they all contained to science! – there is no escaping that since we last met, the world has been passing through very trying times – with higher education conspicuously impacted.
I have every confidence that under Professor Terry’s leadership, and with the Senate’s rigour and guidance, the University will confront these challenges, and build on its proud 109-year heritage while continuing to meet and delineate the contemporary needs of our State.
Now, the astute historian amongst us tonight will be quick to point out the University’s history can be traced back even further than that 1911 inauguration, including to the appointment the prior year of the first University Senate and the earlier establishing Act of 1909.
And so I now turn my attention to the present Senate members in whose honour we tonight gather, and whose good work and fidelity to the University’s core mission we rightly acknowledge.
Tonight is very much about you! As Governor, Official Visitor and proud alumnus, I extend my sincere gratitude for all you do for our University and State.
Finally, I wish you all a most invigorating festive season and a Happy New Year – 2021!
May we look forward to it with renewed optimism, guided by the University’s enduring mission of hope and advancement, which so defines our State. Thank you.