24 August 2010

The University of Queensland community is paying tribute to former UQ Chancellor Sir James Foots, AO, who died on August 21, 2010, aged 94, and whose life will be celebrated in a service on Friday at St John’s Cathedral, Brisbane.

Sir James was an Australian mining industry leader, a distinguished philanthropist and renowned businessman.

He graduated in Mining Engineering from the University of Melbourne in 1937 and worked at Captain's Flat, Darwin and Broken Hill before becoming General Manager of Mount Isa Mines Limited in 1955.

In this role and as Chief Executive and Chairman of MIM Holdings Ltd for three decades, he steered the MIM Group through a major expansion in metal production and into a period of product and geographic diversification.

Sir James had a far-reaching and enduring impact during his long association with the University.

He was appointed to the Senate in 1970 and was the Inaugural Chairman of the University of Queensland Foundation from 1982-1985 and a Foundation Governor until 1992.

He served as Chancellor from 1985-1992 and helped establish the Julius Kruttschnitt Mineral Research Centre in 1970.

UQ awarded Sir James an honorary Doctorate of Engineering in 1982.

He established and generously supported the Sir James Foots Scholarships for undergraduates in Mining Engineering and Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering, and the Sir James Foots Building is a perpetual reminder of his contributions to both UQ and the minerals industry.

He was a Director of the University’s main technology transfer company, Uniquest Ltd from 1993 to 1997 and chair from 1994-1997.

UQ Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Greenfield said Sir James’ widespread contributions to the University included forging relations between research and industry, many of which continue to this day.

“Sir James marshalled industry support for University activities, and was a pioneering supporter of the translation of research breakthroughs into services and products for the community and industry.

“He epitomised the successful person who ‘gives back’, and many UQ students and graduates continue to benefit from his quiet but generous philanthropy.

“I can assure his family that, although we will miss Sir James, his impact on the University of Queensland and the national and global community will not be forgotten.”

He received many industry accolades including the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy Medal and the Institution of Mining and Metallurgy (UK) Gold Medal in 1987. He was knighted in recognition of his services to the mining industry in 1975 and received an AO in 1992 and a Centenary Medal in 2001.