Honorary doctorate for first woman Governor-General

21 May 2010

Chancellor Marie Bashir and Governor-General Quentin Bryce.
Chancellor Marie Bashir and Governor-General Quentin Bryce.

The University of Sydney has awarded an honorary doctorate to a former Principal of its Women's College, now Australia's first woman Governor-General, Ms Quentin Bryce AC.

The Doctor of Laws was conferred in a ceremony in the University's Great Hall today by Chancellor and NSW Governor Marie Bashir AC CVO, after a citation read by Vice-Chancellor Dr Michael Spence.

In his citation, Dr Spence paid tribute to Ms Bryce's career and time at the University.

"Throughout her career she has been a role model for Australian women as she practiced what she preached and managed to balance commitments to her family, workplace and the community," Dr Spence said.

"As principal of Women's College at this University, Ms Bryce made a personal and lasting impact on the lives of hundreds of young women who resided there."

Ms Bryce began her academic career in Queensland - graduating with degrees of Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws from the University of Queensland, where she later taught Introduction to Law, Criminal Law, Administrative Law and Legal Aspects of Social Work.

She was one of the first women admitted to the Queensland Bar in 1965 and later served as the inaugural director of the Queensland Women's Information Service and then Queensland Director of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission.

Governor-General Quentin Bryce and Vice-Chancellor Dr Michael Spence.
Governor-General Quentin Bryce and Vice-Chancellor Dr Michael Spence.

In 1988, Ms Bryce took on national responsibilities serving as the Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner, and in 1993 she became the Founding Chair and CEO of the National Childcare Accreditation Council, tasked with establishing national childcare standards.

In 1997, she returned to University life as Principal of Women's College at the University of Sydney, where she is remembered fondly as a mentor, who inspired women in their tertiary study.

Ms Bryce recently returned to the College to present the Louise McDonald Oration. She reminded the young residents and guests of the importance of a university education for women in Australia; the importance of an institution that is in her words "founded on principles of access, equity and justice", Dr Spence recounted at the ceremony.

Ms Bryce's career also spans roles as diverse as President of Women's Cricket Australia and Chair of the Jessie Street National Women's Library - a service named after activist Jessie Street, who, like Ms Bryce worked throughout her life to improve the status of women.

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