Honorary awards

The Hon David Mayer Selby and Mrs Barbara Selby

The degree of Doctor of the University was conferred upon the Hon Mr Justice David Mayer Selby and the title of Honorary Fellow of the University was conferred upon Mrs Barbara Selby at the graduation ceremony held on 4 May 1991.

The Hon Mr Justice David Mayer Selby & Mrs Barbara Selby

Mrs Barbara Selby and the Hon Mr Justice David Mayer Selby after the conferring of their awards, (photo reproduced with the kind permission of Mrs Alison Rosenberg).


One of the married couples most prominent in University affairs over the past 25 years, David and Barbara Selby, were both honoured at a Conferring Ceremony in the Great Hall on 4 May.

Mr Selby, formerly Chief Judge, Family Law Division, and a lecturer in Divorce in the Law School, was made Doctor of the University for 'outstanding service' given to the University, primarily in his capacity as Deputy Chancellor from 1971 to 1986 and as a Fellow of Senate from 1964 to 1989.

The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Don McNicol, in presenting Mr Selby to the Chancellor, Sir James Rowland, referred to his two books dealing with his experiences in New Guinea and New Britain. 'Hell and High Fever' (1956) told of his overland escape with some of his militia troops from the Japanese at Rabaul and of their privations. 'His courage and integrity preserved him,' Professor McNicol said. The second, 'Itambu' (1963), is an account of his period as Acting Justice of the Supreme Court of New Guinea written with 'deeply compassionate understanding'.

Professor McNicol said that there was much more in the Deputy Chancellor's position than just filling in for the Chancellor. He is ex officio a member of all Senate committees, he said, and often presides at them. The ceremonial role means that the holder has an obligation to attend and speak at many functions. Mr Selby had brought to the Deputy Chancellorship 'those qualities of integrity and understanding which had marked his other achievements'.

'He gave outstanding service to the University and has earned its admiration, respect and gratitude', Professor McNicol said. 'He is one of its distinguished graduates who has made a great contribution to its life'.

Barbara Selby, an Arts graduate of the University, was made an Honorary University Fellow for her interest in and support for numerous organisations in the University, including International House, the Chancellor's Committee, the Women's Group, the Arts Association and, while it was still in existence, the University Settlement in Chippendale. Her unstinting support for her husband's work at the University was also praised. She was very active in former years with the Meals on Wheels scheme in Redfern at the time of the University's expansion into that area.

In introducing her, Professor McNicol said the University recognised with gratitude and greatly valued the support she has given over many years.

From 'The University of Sydney News', 14 May 1991