Murdoch mourns loss of University icon

September 4, 2015

Emeritus Professor Geoffrey Bolton AO

Emeritus Professor Geoffrey Bolton AO

One of Murdoch University’s most iconic figures and esteemed foundation professors’, Emeritus Professor Geoffrey Bolton AO, has died at the age of 83.

Murdoch University Acting Vice Chancellor Professor Andrew Taggart said Professor Bolton was part of the Murdoch fabric and he would be missed by the University and WA community.

“Geoffrey is recognised as one of Australia’s foremost historians, socio-political commentators and historical writers, and has also been a fundamental contributor to the success of Murdoch University through his role as Foundation Professor of History, and later as Chancellor,” he said.

“It is widely acknowledged that he has done more than any other scholar to help Western Australians interpret their past and relate it to the present, and his contribution to the State’s and University’s history will never be forgotten.

“What is most upsetting is that Geoffrey will not be here to celebrate our 40th anniversary on 17 September. I know he would have wanted to mark the occasion and to celebrate the special book of essays he was collecting and getting ready to publish for our special milestone.”

Professor Bolton's long and distinguished association with the University began with his appointment to the Murdoch University Planning Board (1970-73); an inaugural member of the University’s governing body. He also served on the academic, buildings, site, and Vice Chancellor's selection committees at this time.

Professor Bolton was among the first members appointed to the University Senate serving three terms – from 1973-1976 and again in 1999-2002, and from 2002-2006 where he served as the Chancellor of Murdoch University.

Additionally, Professor Bolton was appointed Murdoch University's Foundation Professor of History in the School of Social Inquiry in 1973, a position he held until 1989.

Professor Bolton has twice been awarded an honorary Degree by the University. In 1995 he was awarded a Doctor of the University and in 2000 a Doctor of Letters.

Professor Bolton was the recipient of several prestigious awards including Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) 1984 in recognition of distinguished service of a high degree to Australia for his services to education, and a Centenary Medal in 2001 for services to the Centenary of Federation celebrations in Western Australia. In recognition of his major contribution to Australian history and the community Professor Bolton was named the WA Australian of the Year 2006.

Professor Bolton’s name will forever be written into history when Elizabeth Quay opens. Planning Minister, John Day announced in October of 2014 that Geoffrey Bolton Avenue will be the name of the new central street across the top of the inlet.

At the time, Professor Bolton said using his name was a compliment to the profession of historians.

"I would be more than happy to be regarded as symbolic of all the colleagues I have had," he said.

Professor Bolton is one of Australia's most eminent historians and prominent socio-political commentators and is the author of 15 books and has contributed to many more books and articles and he has been General Editor of the prestigious, five-volume "Oxford History of Australia" and author of volume five of that series.

In December of 2014 Geoffrey Bolton recorded the life of one of Australia’s most prominent politicians when he published the biography of Sir Paul Hasluck, who was Australia’s 17th Governor General in 1969.

He was born in Perth, Western Australia on November 5, 1931.

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Comments (2 responses)

Alison Houghton September 7, 2015

Professor Geoffrey Bolton was my mentor, my inspiration and such an entertaining lecturer. He took me from ignorance to knowledge and a love of history that is forever in my soul. We worked together on the committee of the Friends of the Battye Library and during his time at Edith Cowan University. His legacy will live on forever in my thoughts.

RIP Geoff

Barbara Whelan September 7, 2015

Professor Bolton was my mentor when he was Chancellor and I was Guild President. He always was straight with me, and would go in to bat for me when he needed to. Kissing him on the cheek as I received my degree will always stay with me, that was his last graduation as Chancellor. The man was my honorary grandfather, and an inspiration to me. He provided me with a written reference for my job at Curtin, and offered his congratulations at the birth of my son. He will be missed.

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