5 December 2008

Award of a Doctor of Economics honoris causa Mr Douglas Porter


Mr Douglas Porter’s influence during 22 years as Secretary and Registrar of The University of Queensland has extended beyond UQ to the Australian and international higher education sectors.

Douglas has become an institution within an institution since he began at UQ in November 1986, after 21 years as a university administrator in the United Kingdom. His responsibilities have included co-ordination of much of the University’s central administrative and business concerns, plus the multifarious duties of both Secretary to the Senate and the University’s public officer.

Douglas has had carriage of the framework of highly successful activities related to the commercialisation of UQ research, and is a Director of UniQuest and Uniseed. He is also Secretary to UQ Holdings, and has had a key role in the modernisation of computing and information technology systems at UQ.

Being in demand around Australia and globally, he chaired the national Steering Committee for the Core Australian Specification for Management and Administrative Computing, was the global higher education representative on the PeopleSoft (later Oracle) International Customer Advisory Board, and served on several Australian Vice-Chancellors’ committees.

While working at UQ he has given expert international advice on higher education in Fiji and Oman, and has been a consultant to the Higher Education Management Programme of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

He continues to be a director of UniMutual Limited, a member of the Governing Body of the Queensland Studies Authority (having chaired two of its committees), and a member (formerly chair) of the board of the Queensland Tertiary Admissions Centre.

Just as he has used his international insights to enhance his contributions to UQ, Douglas has lent his experience as a past residential college member and scholar-sportsman in order to enrich others’ university experiences. He has supported and promoted the University’s 10 residential colleges, is the Senate representative on and Chair of St John's College Council, and has been Honorary Secretary of the Queensland Rhodes Scholarship Selection Committee since 1991.

A past Vice-Chancellor of UQ would joke that Douglas’s appointment as Secretary and Registrar was due to his cricketing abilities. He might have added: “and rugby prowess”. Douglas won the equivalent of a Full Blue for rugby and a Half Blue for cricket while studying at Durham University in the 1960s, and was an A-grade rugby fly-half for Moseley-Birmingham and several English counties. He was selected to represent English Universities against their Scottish and Welsh counterparts in 1964.

Irrespective of why he was chosen for UQ’s top administrative position in 1986, Douglas has remained at the crease longer than any other Secretary and Registrar currently employed at an Australian university. His enduring attributes as an excellent all-rounder will be greatly missed after he retires on January 28, 2009.

Chancellor, in recognition of his distinguished career and substantial contributions to the University and the tertiary education sector as a whole, I present to you Mr Douglas Porter, Bachelor of Arts with Honours from Durham University, Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management for the award of a Doctor of Economics honoris causa bestowed by the Senate of The University of Queensland.