In 2010, The University of Queensland celebrated its first 100 years. Alumni, current and former staff, students, and friends and partners of the University in the community were invited to participate in the UQ Centenary celebrations.

It was a time of celebration; a time to recognise 100 years of academic excellence, breakthrough research, and wonderful people who continue to shape the world.

Of the three dates relating to the founding of the University, the one we derive UQ’s anniversary year from is 16 April 1910.

Under the University of Queensland Act 1909, the University was constituted from the date of publication of the membership of the Senate, and 16 April 1910 was when the first Senate members were named in the Queensland Government Gazette and the work of creating the University commenced. 

View the UQ Centenary Flickr account for photos taken at and collected for the centenary celebrations.

How we celebrated

More than 80 events were held throughout the year, including the UQ Centenary Celebration Day, a UQ birthday celebration at each campus, alumni celebrations and reunions, an Oration Series, and exhibitions and events for staff and community.

People participated in the celebrations in a range of ways, from providing suggestions and historical information to volunteering at, running and attending events.

Centenary Celebration Day

On 18 April 2010, an estimated 15,000 people converged on the St Lucia campus for the Centenary Celebration Day. The free community event included live music in the Great Court; a Writers' Hub showcasing UQ writers, science and innovation talks; information sessions on global change and positive ageing; and campus tours.

The carnival atmosphere was enhanced by numerous roving entertainers or spontaneous performances across campus – including stilt walkers, the Queensland University Musical Society choir, Institute of Modern Languages Travellers’ Tales (street theatre performances in Spanish, French and Chinese), the Emmanuel College Pipe Band, The Belles of Duchesne bell ringers, flash mobs performed by dancers from Indooroopilly State High School – and by international food stalls and craft stalls.

The Dusk Spectacle, featuring an orchestra performing before the deep blue-lit front facade of the Forgan Smith building and backed by a light show, provided a fitting finale as the day ended.

UQ Oration Series

The Oration Series was a highlight of the year-long celebrations and drew distinguished and high-profile orators, as well as enthusiastic audience members from business, industry and government; UQ staff and students, as well as the media and general community. Oration topics covered past, present and future issues, and achievements that have impacted on and will continue to impact on local, national and global communities.

The Honourable Dr Penelope Wensley AC, former Governor of Queensland
Topic: Global Change
Date: 10 March 2010

Read the full story

Professor the Honourable Gareth Evans AO, QC
Topic: From ideas to action: ‘Political will’ in international decision-making
Date: 31 March 2010

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Dr Tony Haymet
Topic: The coming robotic exploration of the biology of the global ocean
Date: 14 April 2010

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Jack Manning Bancroft 
Topic: Tomorrow's children
Date: 21 April 2010

Read the full story

Irina Bokova
Topic: Freedom of information: the right to know
Date: 2 May 2010

Read the transcript

Professor Jim Bell
Topic: Postcards from Mars: Six-and-a-half years of science and exploration with the Spirit and Opportunity Rovers
Date: 14 July 2010

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Professor Joseph Stiglitz
Topic: Freefall: free markets and the sinking of the global economy
Date: 26 July 2010

Read the full story

Dr Andrew Liveris
Topic: On the Centenary: The next 100 years. Queensland, Australia and the World
Date: 22 November 2010

Read the pre-oration interview

Read the full story

Professor Michael Stratton, FRS
Topic: Evolution of the cancer genome
Date: 7 December 2010

Read the pre-oration interview

Centenary publications and merchandise

Nine books, along with other memorabilia and merchandise was produced and available for purchase throughout the year.

  • The People's University: 100 Years of The University of Queensland
  • Script for Success:  50 Years of Pharmacy at The University of Queensland
  • Found in Fryer: Stories from the Fryer Library Collection
  • Agricultural Science at The University of Queensland: A Centenary Celebration
  • The Forgan Smith: History of a Building and its People at The University of Queensland
  • The University of Queensland Library: A Centenary History, 1910–2010
  • Writers Footprints: A Literary Guide to Queensland
  • Before Time today:  Reinventing Tradition in Aurukun Aboriginal Art
  • The Presence of Absence: Images of an Institution
  • Centenary medallion
  • UQ Centenary map
  • UQ Art Museum card set

Art exhibitions and commemorative events

The UQ Art Museum staged nine art exhibitions at the James and Mary Emelia Mayne Centre on the St Lucia campus during the Centenary year. Two special Centenary exhibitions drew thousands of visitors to the campus:

  • 100 Years: Highlights from The University of Queensland Art Collection (16 AprilJuly 2010)
  • Before Time Today: Reinventing Tradition in Aboriginal Art (11 September28 November 2010)

Mayne Medallion

In 2010, the University commissioned a new artwork commemorating one of its first and most significant benefactors, Dr James O'Neil Mayne. Dr Mayne and his younger sister, Mary Emelia Mayne, made the University's move to its current St Lucia site possible, with donations amounting to £60,000 between 1927 and 1929.  

The artwork consists of a life-size bronze portrait medallion relief of Dr Mayne, accompanied by a bronze dedication plaque, set in a sandstone block. The work was created by University Sculptor Dr

Rhyl Hinwood AM. It has been placed in the entry vestibule of the Forgan Smith Building above the building’s foundation stone.

Reginald Heber Roe Tree

On 22 June, 29 descendants of Reginald Heber Roe gathered at the St Lucia campus to plant a commemorative tree to honour Reginald Roe, member of the First Senate and the first person to hold the title of Vice-Chancellor of the University.  

State Government Reception

On 25 October 2010, the Premier of Queensland, Dr Anna Bligh, hosted an official reception at the State’s Parliament House to celebrate the Centenary of the University. 

The event honoured the important contribution of the University to the State of Queensland. 

This contribution was also recognised in the 2010 Queensland Greats Awards made by the State Government and announced on 3 June during Queensland Week. UQ was named as a Queensland Great in the institution category. 

Senate Dinner and commissioned music

Exactly one year after the Centenary celebrations were launched, the 2010 Senate Dinner was held on 10 December in the Long Room at Customs House. 

It was the last corporate event of the Centenary, and at the dinner, the 15-minute piece of music commissioned by the University for the Centenary, The scattering of light, was performed for the first time by the School of Music’s Ensemble-in-Residence. 

Well-known Australian composer Dr Andrew Ford composed the work especially for the Ensemble-in-Residence. The process of the creation of the work was embedded in the teaching of composition in the School of Music during 2010. The work will become a core part of the Ensemble’s repertoire.


All units were encouraged to invest in Centenary activities to help raise their profile and build relationships, especially with alumni.

A sum of up to $5000 per unit was available for approved activities in the Centenary year. The funding was not intended to cover all costs associated with an activity or event but was intended to support initiatives and activities that in turn supported the objectives of the Centenary and its key messages.

Applications were invited on 8 May 2009, with a closing date of 5 June 2009. Fifty-three applications were processed, some involving multiple units. Eventually, 42 events or activities involving 49 faculties, schools, centres and other academic and administrative service delivery units received funding.

Final 2009 UQ Senate meeting

UQ’s 31st Senate held its final meeting for 2009 on Thursday 10 December.

The date marked 100 years since the State Government gave the people of Queensland a university in celebration of its Golden Jubilee. On 10 December 1909, the University of Queensland Act came into being and Old Government House was dedicated to the use of the new university.

Guests included Queensland Premier Anna Bligh and the Queensland Governor, Her Excellency Penelope Wensley AO.

A message from the Vice-Chancellor

From a cancer vaccine and new generation jet engine technology, through to an Oscar-winning actor and umpteen fine works of literature, UQ’s first century is characterised by remarkable contributions to the Queensland, national and international communities. 

The Centenary is a starting point for a new century of high-impact outcomes from UQ learning, discovery and engagement. It is symbolic, but the timing could not be better. In Australia and internationally, there is growing recognition that education and research will be pivotal to future prosperity – economically, socially and environmentally. Our students, at all levels, are as exemplary today as at any time during the past 100 years. And the pace of discovery is accelerating in areas where UQ has the capacity to be globally influential – for example, early disease diagnosis, personalised medicine, and sustainable energy.

The promise of coming decades will be fulfilled by people who stand on the shoulders of the giants of 1910–2010. So, during the Centenary we will celebrate the staff, students and community partners who have brought UQ to its current position of strength.

To maximise the involvement of people who have played a part in UQ's success, I invite you to sign up here to be kept informed of Centenary activities in Australia and overseas.

I look forward to joining you in launching UQ into its second century.

Professor Paul Greenfield AO
Vice-Chancellor and President, 1 January 2008 to 13 January 2012