Honorary awards

Emeritus Professor Rex Milton Butterfield

The honorary degree of Doctor of Science was conferred upon Emeritus Professor Rex Milton Butterfield by the Chancellor Dame Leonie Kramer AC DBE at the ceremony held at 4.00pm on 19 December 1996.


Presented by the Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Gavin Brown


I have the honour to present Emeritus Professor Rex Milton Butterfield for the conferring of the degree of Doctor of Science (honoris causa).

Rex Butterfield received a Diploma of Agriculture at Roseworthy Agricultural college, South Australia, and following service in the Armed Forces 1941-1945, completed a degree in Veterinary Science with Second Class Honours at the University of Sydney. He worked in private veterinary practice in Oakbank, South Australia for 10 years. Research in reproduction in thoroughbred horses while in practice led to the production of a thesis and award of the degree of Master of Veterinary Science in 1961. Subsequent research on growth and development of the musculature in cattle resulted in the award of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in 1963. That and subsequent work directed at understanding the basis for improved carcase quality in meat-producing animals, has received worldwide attention, and led to major advances in the field. It was recognised by the award of the degree of Doctor of Veterinary Science by the University of Queensland in 1968, and several prizes. Throughout his career Professor Butterfield developed close working relationships with other research workers, which led to the production of many significant research papers, and two innovative books providing new insights into the mechanisms of growth in meat-producing animals.

Professor Butterfield was appointed to the Foundation Chair of Veterinary Anatomy in this University in 1966, and filled it with distinction for 20 years until his retirement in 1986. Under his leadership the department developed a strong undergraduate teaching base, and a research ethos that involved significant contributions to basic research in anatomical sciences and outstanding applied research of direct benefit to the meat industry.

He served as Dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney, for the four years 1970-1973, and was a Fellow of the University Senate in 1970-1971 and 1978-1979.

Professor Butterfield's outstanding service to the community has involved, in particular, forging stronger ties between the University and the veterinary profession, and the University and rural industries. He has enjoyed the respect of both his profession and industry for many years, and continues to bring credit to this University by his major contributions in these areas.

He played a significant part in the formation and development of the Australian College of Veterinary Scientists, is a Foundation Fellow, and was its Foundation President in 1971. He has retained an interest in the College, which has become a focus of activity, particularly professional development, within the veterinary profession in Australia and New Zealand. He was convener of the Committee on Ethics of the Australian Veterinary Association for several years, and a member of the Council of that professional body.

Professor Butterfield served with distinction as the Australian Universities' representative m the Australian Meat Research Committee; President of the Australian Equine Research Foundation, and convener of the Research Advisory Committee of that Foundation; Member of the Expert Panel on Breeding Stock for Sheep Meat Production; Member of the Expert Panel on Selection of Beef Cattle Breeding Stock; and Chairman of the Animal Welfare Advisory Council to the New South Wales Government. He provided the impetus for the establishment of the New South Wales Racing Research Fund in the University of Sydney.

He is the recipient of the Brodie Prize (1967) for published work of practical and economic value to the Australian Beef Industry; the first Angus Chevalier Award (1980) for outstanding achievement for the rural industry of Australia; and the Golden Jubilee Urrbrae Award (1982) for outstanding contribution to Australian agriculture.

Since retiring in 1986 Professor Butterfield has served as Chairman of the National Consultative Committee on Animal Welfare advising the Federal Minister for Primary Industries, and continues to be President of the Australian Registered Cattle Breeders Association, and the Australasian representative of the Keeneland Association, USA.

Chancellor, I have great pleasure in presenting Emeritus Professor Rex Butterfield for admission to the degree of Doctor of Science (honoris causa).