Annual Maurice Maughan Prize is launched

Sarah Barry and her husband John Fairburn have donated money towards a prize in memory of her late father Maurice Maughan. The University will award the annual Maurice Maughan Prize to the best-performing first-year surveying student, in memory of the respected senior tutor who worked at UNSW’s School of Surveying from 1966 to 1975.

While Surveying is not a School, in its own right anymore, the subject remains a critical body of knowledge and as relevant today as it was over forty years ago.  There is a skills shortage in the surveying industry  - predicted to be acute in NSW by 2025. This prize serves to encourage first year students to study surveying and achieve at their highest academic level.

After her father died in 1990, Barry initially considered making her first donation to the University in her Will, but instead decided to give now so that she could see the benefits of the prize during her lifetime, and help deserving students immediately.  
“Leave me on your list for a future gift as I do revise my Will regularly and having seen the wonderful opportunities to support students and researchers at UNSW I am keeping my options open to possibly donate again,” Barry adds.

Maughan was highly-regarded by both his students and academic peers, and also praised for his talent at bridge and squash. Associate Professor Tony Robinson (BSurv ’62, PhD ’74) shared an office in a demountable with him, where the Rex Vowels Theatre now stands. Robinson lauds Maughan as “one of the best mathematical brains that our School of Surveying has had”.  

He also recalls Maughan’s squash finesse. “We were the first to play squash on the uni squash courts before they were officially opened,” Robinson remembers. “The students didn’t laugh at him for his white starched Bombay Bloomers as he wiped them off the squash court.”

Emeritus Professor John Trinder, Surveying and Geospatial at the School of Civil Engineering, and former Head of School, describes him as a “valued colleague”.

Professor Bill Kearsley, the School’s Professorial Visiting Fellow, also shared an office with Maughan for some years. “We played many hands of bridge over lunchtimes together - he was a formidable bridge player,” Kearsley says. Maughan owned a "Portable Bridge Game" which he had carried through WWII.

Born in the UK in 1909, Maughan received a Bachelor of Science with first class honours from King’s College at the University of London. After graduating, he worked in the actuarial department of an assurance company. When WWII started he signed up to the Royal Artillery and served in India on the North West Frontier, reaching the rank of captain.

At the end of the War, Maughan joined the British Colonial Office, working as a surveyor in Uganda for 17 years, and becoming the acting Commissioner of Lands and Survey. In his spare time, he represented Uganda in high level sports competitions in both squash and hockey. When Uganda became an independent nation, Maughan immigrated to Australia with his family in 1961.  

When he joined UNSW, surveying was becoming increasingly popular, and in 1970 the University formed an independent School. But in 2013, due to declining student numbers, after more than four decades as a separate entity, the School of Surveying and Geospatial Engineering reunited with the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Find out more about leaving a gift to UNSW in your Will, please contact: Janet Hall, Development Manager - Future Giving, UNSW Foundation, phone 02 9385 0532, j.e.hall[at][dot]au


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