History of Alumni Friends

Alumni Friends was founded in May 1967, as the first university alumni association to be established in Australia. Its mission is to connect The University of Queensland (UQ) alumni and community to support students, educators and researchers.

By 2020, Alumni Friends had donated the equivalent of over $10 million to UQ and had continued to provide a program of activities to attract engaged alumni and members of the community to support UQ. In the early decades, Alumni Friends organised high-profile social activities through several Special Interest Groups, raising thousands of dollars for major university projects, and in support of prizes, scholarships and bursaries. In more recent years (1988-present), the main fundraising activity by Alumni Friends has continued to be the now-annual UQ Alumni Book Fair® and biennial Rare Book Auction.

2020 was a momentous year for Alumni Friends as it was the closure of the incorporated association, and the founding of a new UQ Giving Society, Alumni Friends. This brief history is prepared on a best endeavours basis. Corrections and new information are always welcome.

A brief history of Alumni Friends​

1966 Alumni News launched by UQ, proposing closer engagement with UQ alumni.

1967 The Alumni Association of The University of Queensland Inc. was founded, with the support of then Vice-Chancellor, Sir Fred Schonell.  

1968 First book donated by the Association to Fryer Library (Gillies History of Ancient Greece, 1825). Donations for the purchase of rare books and manuscripts for UQ Library & Fryer Library exceed equivalent of $500k by 2017 (NB Not all books valued at donation).

Steinway piano donated to the School of Music (equivalent to over $65k).

1972 Alumni Court donations reach 2020 equivalent of over $130k (donated 1970-72).

1973 Mayne Hall Donations, including for organ and furnishing, exceed the equivalent of $200k (presented 1972-3). 

First donation of artworks to UQ (paintings by George Lambert, and Lloyd Rees).

1977 First donation to UQ Antiquities Museum (now RD Milns Antiquities Museum) - Etruscan helmet & coins.

1978 Alumni Teaching Garden donations began (final 1984, total equivalent of over $120k).

1981 Funds for the Anthropology Museum purchase of Wagilag Sisters.

1982 Alumni House Goondiwindi (student 'pastoral veterinary centre', equivalent $300k+).

1984 Fryer Library donation for the purchase of David Malouf & Thomas Shapcott manuscripts.

Completion of donations for Australian Studies Centre Microfilming Project (Australian Provincial Newspapers as an historical resource for UQ [current value over $160k]).

1986 First award of Veterinary Alumni Prize (initially bursary).

1988 Lisbeth Hopkins OAM founded the UQ Alumni Book Fair®. Proceeds from the Fair, and associated Rare Book Auction, continue to be added to the Alumni Friends Fund, to support UQ students, researchers, and educators.

1988 Friends of Antiquity established as a Special Interest Group of the Association.

Perpetual Great Court Race Trophy, designed and produced by the university sculptor, Dr Rhyl Hinwood AM, donated to UQ Sport by Alumni Friends.

Grant for UNIvations display at World Expo ’88.

Plant tissue culture laboratory donations commenced (by 1991 total exceeded current value equivalent of $500k). 

Art Union proceeds presented to Professor Ian Frazer, UQ Centre for Immunology & Cancer Research.

1989 Alumni Friends established UQ Sports Scholarships. By 2020, the Association had donated the equivalent of over $500,000 to support UQ student athletes.

First donation to support Marks-Hirschfeld Museum of Medical History (final donation of $40k, with transfer of fund to Faculty of Medicine in 2020).

1990 Guide to the Great Court printing funded by the Association.

1993 Helen Gregory’s UQ Alumni: The First Twenty-five Years of the Alumni Association of The University of Queensland published.

1992 Friends of Antiquity presented the first Betty Fletcher Memorial Travelling Scholarship (donations equivalent to over $200k by 2019). 

The UQ Alumnus of the Year Award was established by the Association (inaugural recipient: Dr David Malouf AO).

1993 Three Score Club founded as a social group; meeting monthly to enjoy a lecture and morning tea (and an optional lunch).

1994 First donation to support UQ Debating Society (by 2009, total donations exceeded the equivalent of $70k).

1996 Donations in support of the UQ Customs House Appeal (2020 equivalent over $500k).

1988 Una Prentice Memorial Garden (75th anniversary gift, (2020 equivalent over $200k).

1999 Elizabeth Usher Memorial Travelling Scholarship first awarded.

UQ Graduate of the Year Award established.

2001 Margaret Waugh Memorial Bursary for academic study by a member of the University Library Staff first awarded (fund transferred to UQ in 2019 to maintain the award until monies are exhausted).  

2004 Richard Spencer Hopkins Memorial Prize in Civil Engineering was established (Funds donated to UQ in 2019 to establish the endowed Richard Spencer Hopkins Memorial Undergraduate Scholarship).

2005 First donation in support of UQ School of Music QPAC Concerts (by 2020, total donations exceed the equivalent of $100k).

2008 To avoid confusion between UQ’s newly-formed UQ Alumni network, members approved a change of name to Alumni Friends of The University of Queensland Inc. 

The Honourable Dr Penelope Wensley AC accepted the invitation to act as Patron of the incorporated association (Patron 2008-20).

2010 The UQ Centenary Celebration Reception for Alumni Friends of The University of Queensland was held at Government House on 4th July, 2010 in the presence of the Governor of Queensland, and the Chancellor of the University, Mr John Story AO. 

Joan Elizabeth Wickham Prize established.

2012 The UQ 3MT® People’s Choice Perpetual Prize was established and first awarded in 2012, at the suggestion of Dr Stephen Papas OAM (trophy designed by Dr Rhyl Hinwood AM). 

Donation supporting the purchase of cone beam dental imaging equipment.

2013 R.D. Milns Antiquities Museum 50th anniversary donation for fourth century athenian grave stele.

2014 Donation to establish the Courting Blakness Website (now in NLA Library).

2015 The May AGM Address was given by the Honourable Dr Penelope Wensley AC.

Alumni Friends of UQ Collection Study Room opened at the UQ Art Museum (coinciding with actual value of donations to UQ Art Museum in excess of $800k. [NB not all artworks donated were valued at time of donation and therefore not included in that figure]).

2017 “Recognising and celebrating the valuable contribution of Alumni Friends of the University of Queensland,” the UQ Senate hosted an afternoon tea in the St Lucia Campus’s Alumni Court. Following speeches by Peter Varghese AO (Chancellor, The University of Queensland) and by The Honourable Dr Penelope Wensley AC (Patron, Alumni Friends), a commemorative plaque was unveiled by Peter Varghese AO, The Honourable Dr Penelope Wensley AC, and by Professor Peter Høj (Vice-Chancellor and President, The University of Queensland).

His Excellency the Honourable Paul de Jersey AC, Governor of Queensland, and Mrs Kaye de Jersey hosted a reception at Government House to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Alumni Friends of The University of Queensland. 

Exhibitions launched to coincide with the Golden Jubilee celebrations included: UQ Library’s Fifty Years of Friendship, the RD Milns Museum 50 Years of Giving, and UQ Art Museum philanthropists and collections. 

Book Group moved to UQ’s Long Pocket Campus, following over 26 years working from St Lucia’s Cairngorm (a typical ‘Queenslander’ home, built c.1901 by John Moir Mitchell, and previously the family home of the Mitchell and Dowling families).

Golden Jubilee celebrations of the Association (2017-18) included the award of fifty $1,000 student bursaries, donation of $50,000 to support the new Fryer Library Teaching Space, and the creation of the Fifty Stories project.

2018 Alumni Friends Medicine Prize and Alumni Friends Indigenous Medicine Prizes established to mark the closure of the Medical Special Interest Group (SIG) of the Association (first awarded in 2019). At the time of closure, members of the Medicine SIG had donated an inflation-adjusted equivalent over $1m to the Faculty).

Closure of the Physiotherapy SIG of the Association marked with 2018-19 donations to support The History of Physiotherapy Education at The University of Queensland Project (1938-2038).

Golden Jubilee report published. 

2019 Rare Book Auction first held in the new Fryer Library Teaching Space. Decision to hold the UQ Alumni Book Fair® as an annual event (event delayed until 2021, due to COVID19 restrictions).

At the May 2020 AGM, Members approved Special Motions proposing a closer link with the University of Queensland. During 2019, the Association finalised agreements with UQ to establish a number of endowed awards and scholarships for UQ students. 

Presentation of additional copies of the Dr Rhyl Hinwood AM UQ Alumnus of the Year trophy to UQ (from 2020, selection process managed by UQ).

Following the Book Group team sales of photographs by the late Peter Londy, the donation of $3,000 ‘seed-funding,’ to establish the Mary & Peter Londy Award.

Donations to establish the UQ 3MT® People’s Choice prize, and UQ Great Court Race prizes as endowed Awards.

Closure of The Alumni Friends Dentistry Special Interest Group, after almost 20 years of active support of the UQ School of Dentistry (donations for the purchase of major items of equipment alone totalled over $250,000).

Donations to establish new UQ endowed scholarships—including the Betty Fletcher Memorial Undergraduate Scholarship (Classics & Antiquities), and Joan Elizabeth Wickham Memorial Scholarship (female students, engineering).

In 2019, total donations to UQ of exceeded $650k. With the addition of UQ ‘matching,’ the total donation for the year was equivalent to over one million dollars. 

2020 Three Score Club merged with UQ’s Tea & Tours Program: 3T events launched Feb 2020. Final issue of Alumni News, produced by ‘Emeritus Editor’ Marion Jones (2009-20).

Dentistry SIG closure marked with the establishment of two endowed Scholarships for UQ Dentistry students: the David Dunlop Memorial Undergraduate Scholarship and the Alumni Friends HDR Scholarship.

Donations to establish the Betty Fletcher Memorial Travelling Scholarship as an endowed UQ Scholarship, in addition to funds to establish three new endowed Scholarships: The Honourable Dr Penelope Wensley AC Sports Scholarship, the Lisbeth Hopkins OAM Memorial Scholarship, and the Alumni Friends Veterinary Science Scholarship.

Members supported Special Motions at the May 2020 AGM, supporting the closure of the Incorporated Association and the establishment of the new UQ Giving Society.

Papers submitted to the Queensland Government’s Office of Fair Trading on for the closure of the incorporated association (June 2020).

The official start of the next fifty years: Alumni Friends, a UQ giving society

New UQ giving society, Alumni Friends, launched in June 2020. First meeting of the Leadership Board in July, with a special event for members to celebrate the launch to take place later in the year, following the lifting of public health restrictions.