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The graduation event that was 60 years in the making

24 July 2018
Honouring a member of our alumni community
The University of Sydney School of Dentistry recently held a graduation celebration for Dr Bruce Morris, presenting him with his testamur and medal from 1958.
Black and white photo of Bruce Morris aged 26

When Dr Bruce Morris completed his Bachelor of Dental Surgery, he was 20 years old.

“I was told that I was not allowed to get my degree with my fellow students as I was only 20. I was informed that if I turned up in another year’s time – that is, when I was 21 – I could then be presented with my degree,” says Bruce. “But by then I had worked as a staff dentist at the Sydney Dental Hospital for nearly a year. My other dental friends had found work and accommodation in London and said to come on over. So, with three other dentists I set sail on the P&O boat The Iberia for the UK.”

When Bruce returned to Australia ten years later, with a wife, two daughters and a mother-in-law, he considered asking to be handed his degree and medal for the L.R.Carroll Prize which he had been awarded in his final year.

“But by then my mother and father were dead and were not going to see their only son presented with his degree, so I chose not to follow it up at this stage.”

“But this year, sixty years after I should have had my graduation, the thought occurred to me again. As I now have two grown up daughters, four grandchildren and a younger sister (also a graduate of the University of Sydney), I thought that perhaps they would like to see their father/grandfather/brother eventually be handed his degree and medal.”

Bruce Morris receiving his testamur from Professor Heiko Spallek

Bruce Morris receiving his award from Professor Heiko Spallek.

Bruce was presented with his testamur and medal by Professor Heiko Spallek, Acting Head of School and Dean of the Sydney Dental School. After the ceremony and lunch, Bruce and his family were taken on a tour of the Sydney Dental Hospital student clinics, where he received his original clinical training. The Morris family all put their hands to the Simodonts (haptic technology) to try cutting ‘teeth’ for themselves.

Bruce has generously provided $50,000 to establish the Bruce and Rosemary Morris Bursary, an annual bursary that will assist a first year Doctor of Dental Medicine student. The bursary was established in memory of his wife of 55 years who sadly died last year.

“The second aim of the bursary was to give something back to dentistry for my enjoyment of my 57 years as a dental surgeon," adds Bruce.

“I was proud to present Dr Morris with his degree after all these years, and have the opportunity to meet his family,” says Professor Spallek. “We are grateful to alumni such as Dr Morris, who in reflecting on their own study and career provide support for future generations. By generously endowing the Bruce and Rosemary Morris Bursary, he will be helping dental students in need of financial support for many years to come.”

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