Dr Leslie Boyce

Award of Doctor of Laws honoris causa

Dr Leslie Boyce

Mr Chancellor,

Shortly before I assumed office as Vice-Chancellor of The University of Queensland, I paid a visit with my wife to Mr and Mrs L.A. Boyce in Toowoomba. We were received with great courtesy and kindness and I saw then the fine property which Mr and Mrs Boyce had given to The University of Queensland and we talked about the proposed development of the property to provide an external studies centre for The University of Queensland.

In the lives of universities, Mr Chancellor, some projects take a little time to develop, and in the years which followed, which were very busy and saw many developments, we explored the proposal more fully. We saw the prospect of developing not only an external studies, but also a general conference centre on the property. Then it appeared possible with the co-operation of Mr and Mrs Bolton and the Trustees of the Lionel Lindsay collection and library that we might incorporate it in a handsome building which would provide in Toowoomba a university centre, which would give tangible and handsome expression to a university presence within that lovely city.

Such projects, sir, are expensive, and we had little resource within the University, other than ideas and the skills of our architects and scholars, and such talent for organisation as we might possess, to advance it. We had however, the abundant resource and energy of Leslie Boyce. In Toowoomba, a committee was formed, the project was presented to the community, and a fund was raised to build the centre. To this, the citizens of Toowoomba made generous contribution. What is more, Leslie Boyce and his wife who had already contributed very generously to the University, made large personal donations. In effect they underwrote the sum necessary to allow the centre to be built. It will be completed within a few months; it is built to the design of the University architect, Mr James MacCormick, the designer of the Australian Pavillions at Montreal for Expo 67 and at Osaka for Expo 70.

While recognising fully the support and the generosity of others, this is an enduring monument to Leslie Boyce whom we honour tonight. The story I have recounted tells something of his civic and community pride, of his generosity, and it also tells something of his great determination, his meticulous attention to the details which assures, as far as anything can assure, the successful outcome of imaginative projects.

We honor him for this and we honour him for many other services to his community and state. Permit me to tell you something of his history and his works.

Leslie Atherton Gerard Boyce was born at Burketown in 1897, more than seventy-six years ago. He was not born to riches, and in his early days the family circumstances were frugal. He won a secondary scholarship which took him to Toowoomba Grammar School. Which he was later to serve as Chairman of the Board of Trustees. 

We passed junion in 1913: and in 1914 he entered the Toowoomba Foundry, which had been founded by his grandfather, C.W. Griffiths, and was controlled by members of the Griffiths family. He entered the company as an engineering cadet. In 1915, when he turned eighteen, he enlisted in the A.I.F., and in 1916 he went to France. He was promoted second lieutenant in the field in 1917; that year he was wounded and was awarded the military cross with a notable citation 'For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty when in commend of his platoon'. He returned to the trenches, was wounded a second time in 1918, and was invalided home.

In 1919, he rejoined the Toowoomba Foundry Company as assistant to the managing director: his first venture into western Queensland in 1920 to sell the company's products, the recounts, was discouraging: he sold nothing. For some years, he served the company's interests in Rockhampton, and in 1925 he returned to Toowoomba as Chief Executive Office of the company and he served it until his retirement in 1957.

Over the years he was involved in many activities. He had a keen interest in politics, he was active in business and commercial associations, and from 1949-51 was president of the Metal Trades Employers' Association. He has been much involved in civic and educational activities.

In 1930 he married Miss Margaret Hall, and she and he are full partners in the enterprises which have so richly benefited this University. Three of her brothers, Mr Chancellor, were students of this University, and one of them, now Lord Robert Hall was, as Sir Robert Hall, admitted to the honorary degree of Doctor of Science in this University in 1960.

Mr Boyce has lively interest in many things. His career provides abundant testimony to his interest and involvement in public affairs; he is a man of broad and general concern; he has a deep interest in nature, in a wide range of cultural activities, and we have good reason to be profoundly grateful to him for his interest in the University. He is, in the very best sense of the word, a citizen.

He is also in the very best sense of the word, a gentleman. He approaches life gravely, but with zest and with wide open eyes. He has travelled widely, and with a lively understanding and appreciation. There are very few men I have met who are quite like him, and I am enriched, and those of us who know him are enriched by his friendship.

Mr Chancellor, Mr Boyce informed me that when he was contemplating a career in those far off days just before the First World War, the law was one of the possibilities canvassed. I think he has retained a keen interest in the law, or at least in some of its branches. He would have been a very good lawyer. If tonight we cannot give him a formal qualification to practise, we can at least confer on him the honorary, ancient, and if I may say so, the highly respectable degree of Doctor of Laws.

Mr Chancellor, I present to you Leslie Atherton Gerard Boyce, holder of the military cross, for admission to the degree of Doctor of Laws 'honoris causa'.

Honorary award citation


Doctor of Laws honoris causa