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When the doors of Grace College opened half a century ago, a group of 90 young women crossed the threshold to establish the supportive, vibrant and inclusive sisterhood that would become a legacy for generations to come.
That camaraderie was just as strong when the college celebrated its 50th anniversary in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. That same sense of community continues today in our multi-cultural, gender inclusive cohort.
The college was established as a joint initiative of the Presbyterian and Methodist Churches, officially opening on 4 April 1970.
Upon declaring the college open, then-state governor and UQ Chancellor, His Excellency The Honourable Sir Alan Mansfield, expressed his hopes for the residents embarking on their college journey.
“I think it may be truly said that in such surroundings of a Christian atmosphere and their tutorial facilities, they not only learn how to make a living, but learn how to live,” – His Excellency The Honourable Sir Alan Mansfield
Places at the college were in high demand – the University was dealing with an increasing waitlist of young women in need of accommodation.
About one-third of the University’s almost 16,700 students were women – yet there were only college accommodation offerings for 336 of them.
In a time before the array of affordable student apartment complexes that are now scattered across inner-city Brisbane, on-campus living was highly sought after, and the opening of UQ’s third women-only college was a welcome milestone across the community.
The first Grace residents (known as ‘Gracies’) paid a reasonable weekly fee of $18.50, which covered accommodation, meals and access to facilities – including a library, tutoring and social activities. Today, such fees are of course unheard of, but the supportive environment, facilities and collegiate comradery remain.
Upon accepting her position at the college following her appointment as Principal in 2013, Dr Monro had never been a part of a college before.
“It was a completely new experience for me. I was interested in the role because of the community formation element, but I was blown away by the community that these young women have.” – Rev. Dr Anita Monro, Principal 2013 – 2022
In 2022, Grace College remains the smallest UQ college, with capacity for 177 student residents. Today, a Grace College student is supported by peer resident assistants, peer tutors, as well as initiatives to promote their personal health, wellbeing and growth. Alongside the other Colleges on the UQ St Lucia Campus, Gracies take part in social, sporting and academic events to provide them a well-rounded university experience.
Gracies have even been able spend time with College dogs over the years. Rudy was Grace’s resident happy-go-lucky dog from 2019 to 2022. He was always there for walks, treats and to provide a listening pair of ears. He retired with Principal, Anita Monro, at the end of 2022 and is enjoying a life of leisure in the Sunshine Coast hinterland.
After providing an exclusive place for young women to live and learn for more than half a century, Grace was proud to welcome a new cohort of residents as it became gender inclusive in 2022.