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Maurice Brown (1917–1980)

by Ross Hohnen

Maurice Brown was Assistant to the Registrar 1 Jan 1950-31 Dec 1951 and Assistant Registrar 1 Jan 1952-24 Dec 1954

'The Prof' — Douglas Copland, first Vice-Chancellor of the University, sought out able young Australians and coached them in a new vision and an imaginative ideal.

One such was Maurice Brown who died very recently in New Zealand at the age of 62. He was then Chairman of the Victorian Public Service Board; his career had included periods both as Registrar and Principal of the Australian Administrative Staff College and Registrar of the University of Malaya.

There were those who rejected the idea that a first rate academic institution could be established in Canberra or at any rate that it could be done quickly. To those who were given the task, the challenge of a new institution was seen as a rare opportunity. Everything had to be done for the first time; the precedent and experience of others were there to take or to leave. ANU was establishing its own precedents and the responsibilities were heavy.

Maurice Brown brought to this group from a tutelage under John Foster, formerly Registrar of the University of Melbourne, a knowledge of academic administration such as few men of his age would have. He had an engaging sparkle and a quality of mind matched by an unusual facility in expression, both in speech and in writing. He was not only a deft draftsman and a master of detail, but effortlessly saw issues in their widest perspective.

His office work was performed superbly. But Maurice and his much loved wife, Margaret, lived a full institutional life, dedicated to knitting together the human fabric of a band of families assembling and making new lives — not without difficulty — in postwar Canberra. Music, food, an embracing family friendship offering comfort and support where needed, community service through the World Council of Churches and the Grammar School Board; a couple with flair — and with hives of bees to prove it!

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Citation details

Ross Hohnen, 'Brown, Maurice (1917–1980)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 27 May 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]


19 August, 1917
Hobart, Tasmania, Australia


13 February, 1980 (aged 62)
Wellington, New Zealand

Religious Influence

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