Geoffrey Bolton Library dedicated in poignant ceremony

February 22, 2017

From left to right, Murdoch Vice Chancellor Professor Eeva Leinonen, Carol Bolton and The Governor of Western Australia, Her Excellency the Honourable Kerry Sanderson AC

From left to right, Murdoch Vice Chancellor Professor Eeva Leinonen, Carol Bolton and The Governor of Western Australia, Her Excellency the Honourable Kerry Sanderson AC

Family members, friends, colleagues and dignitaries gathered at Murdoch University for the official dedication of the Geoffrey Bolton Library.

The special event celebrated the late Emeritus Professor Bolton’s life and career as a Murdoch icon and esteemed historian, and featured moving speeches from his widow Carol Bolton and close friend Fred Chaney AO, a former politician and Murdoch Chancellor. It was hosted by Professor Bolton’s friend and colleague Associate Professor Lenore Layman.

The Governor of Western Australia, Her Excellency the Honourable Kerry Sanderson AC and Murdoch Vice Chancellor, Professor Eeva Leinonen, officially dedicated the Geoffrey Bolton Library, unveiling a plaque in front of around 300 invited guests.

Professor Bolton's long and distinguished association with Murdoch began when he was appointed to the Murdoch University Planning Board in 1970, making him an inaugural member of the University’s governing body. He was also the Foundation Professor of History at Murdoch, a former Senate member, Chancellor and academic. He was also well known and admired as a pre-eminent historian with a particular focus on the history of Western Australia. He died in September 2015.

Speaking at the ceremony, Mrs Bolton said: “We are all very grateful to the University for honouring Geoffrey in this way. It would have pleased him immensely to have the Library named after him, I just wish he could have been here to see it.”

Mr Chaney spoke of Professor Bolton’s elegance and grace, and said a public exhibition of his life and career, now open in the Library foyer, provided a window into his character.

“He was elegant in his being and in his expression… This helped him to be heard by those who would disagree with him. We should all try to be more like Geoffrey Bolton,” he said.

Mr Chaney's full speech can be seen here.


Mrs Sanderson said it was wonderful to see the Library named in honour of one of the most important figures in Western Australian history.

“His teaching and his writing endeavoured to bring Australia’s history to life, making it interesting and accessible for everyone,” she said. “This interest in the variety and complexity of people made him a compelling biographer, but also ensured that his histories expanded the viewpoints from which we considered history.”

Professor Leinonen added that Professor Bolton was one of Murdoch’s most respected leaders and had been fundamentally important to the University throughout its existence.

“There is no doubt he shaped Murdoch in profound ways and his legacy will live on in our values, and as our strategies for the future of Murdoch are shaped,” she said.

The ceremony was followed by a reception for guests and a special Living Library event in the foyer of the Geoffrey Bolton Library, with speakers Adjunct Professor Bill Bunbury, Mary Moore and Dr Joan Pope sharing their memories of Professor Bolton.

Guests were also invited to view the exhibition of Professor Bolton’s life before it opened to the public.

Entitled Geoffrey Bolton: The Legacy of an Eminent Historian and Iconic Murdoch Figure, the exhibition features artworks and memorabilia, several items from Professor Bolton’s private collection and pictures of his grandchildren.

The Geoffrey Bolton Fund was also launched at the dedication ceremony. The Fund will provide early career scholars with grants to fund research and education opportunities.

“Early in his career, Geoffrey was able to research and work with primary historical sources at the University of Oxford thanks to a Hackett Scholarship,” explained Mrs Bolton.

“I hope the Geoffrey Bolton Fund can provide future Murdoch historians with similar opportunities to broaden their research and publications.”

Donations to the Geoffrey Bolton Fund can be made online via the University’s donations website here. More information about the Geoffrey Bolton Fund is available here.

The exhibition is open to the public until 17 March 2017.

Geoffrey Bolton Library dedication

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Media contact: Jo Manning
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