Adjunct Professor Mary Mahoney and Chancellor John Story
Adjunct Professor Mary Mahoney and Chancellor John Story
19 December 2013

Adjunct Professor Dr Mary Mahoney AO has concluded her final term as a University of Queensland Senator, after being the first woman to hold the role of Deputy Chancellor.

She served as a Senator for 24 years, over eight consecutive terms, and was Deputy Chancellor for two terms: once from 1996-98, and again from 2010-13.

A Senate resolution late last month thanked Dr Mahoney for “her profound concern for the aesthetics of the campuses during a time of great development”.

“Overseeing the beautiful UQ buildings and grounds has been a particular privilege,” said Dr Mahoney, who sat on the Buildings and Grounds Committee through her entire time as a Senator, and served as Chair from 1999.

“We have a magnificent campus at St Lucia – many people say it is the most beautiful university campus in Australia,” Dr Mahoney said.

“And then we have Gatton, Ipswich and Herston as well – they are all delightful.”

Dr Mahoney said the completion of the Queensland Bioscience Precinct was “a real highlight” that kicked off a whole new era for UQ. 

“After that, we developed the new Queensland Brain Institute building, and Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology. It was very exciting.”      

Dr Mahoney sat on the Senate Committee on Equity, Diversity and the Status of Women throughout her time as Senator, and chaired it from 1999 to 2013.

“It’s been satisfying to see many women move into senior roles, but the University still has a way to go in this area,” she said.

“Our committee brought all the data before the Senate on the numbers of women in various roles, and we introduced fellowships and programs to help promote women’s careers.”

Dr Mahoney’s time as a Senator spanned five Vice-Chancellors, from Professor Brian Wilson to the current VC, Professor Peter Høj, and three Chancellors – Sir James Foots, Sir Llew Edwards and John Story.

“Sir Llew was a special mentor – of course he was a medical doctor, as well as in Government, so his skills were particularly relevant for me and he really encouraged me in my career.”

Her career is firmly grounded in medicine: Dr Mahoney is a UQ Bachelor of Medicine / Bachelor of Surgery. She practiced as a GP, was a Royal Brisbane Hospital Visiting Medical Officer, and served for 25 years as State Director of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners Training Program.

In 2001 she was awarded the RACGP’s Rose Hunt Award, the College's highest honour  and in 2005 she was named an RACGP Life Fellow.

In 2005, UQ awarded her an honorary doctorate, a Doctor of Medicine honoris causa. 

“One of the lovely things about presiding over graduation ceremonies at UQ over the years has been that I have met literally thousands of graduates including doctors,” Dr Mahoney said.

“It gives me a very personal connection with the medical community in Queensland and beyond.”

Dr Mahoney’s last formal role as a Senator was officiating at a Faculty of Health Sciences graduation ceremony at St Lucia on Friday.

That day was also her 48th wedding anniversary.

“More than anyone, I have to thank my husband Patrick, and acknowledge the tremendous support he has given me,” she told UQ News.

“We have worked together as GPs and throughout, he has been a very supportive and loving partner.” 

UQ Chancellor Mr John Story paid tribute to Dr Mahoney, saying her contribution to UQ had been exceptional.

“Mary is a greatly valued and respected member of the UQ community who has given extraordinary service as a Senator and as Deputy Chancellor,” Mr Story said.

“I sincerely thank Mary for her leadership, dedication and commitment over such a long period and wish both her and Patrick all the best for the future.”

“Mary’s legacy is substantial – I acknowledge her great contribution to UQ, and thank her for the support she has given to me and to the Senate.”

UQ President and Vice-Chancellor also thanked Dr Mahoney for her contribution and dedication to UQ and the Senate. 

“As a member of the University’s Senate, Mary has been a great champion of women in leadership and has done much to encourage women into senior leadership positions,” Professor Høj said.

Dr Mahoney will continue in her roles as Deputy Chair of Brisbane Girls Grammar School, and as a Board Director of General Practice Training Queensland, and Deputy Chair of St Leo’s College Council.  

Mary, (née Hirschfeld) , is from a family which has had close links with UQ from her grandfather, Eugen on the first Senate, through her father, uncle, and cousin. There has been a member of the Hirschfeld family on UQ Senate spanning 60 years.

Contact: Fiona Cameron, ph +61 7 3346 7086,