Courage, fear and common sense

Mary Roosevelt
Annual Institute for Glycomics Gala Dinner 2009 Mary Roosevelt at Royal Pines

“We have nothing to fear but fear itself”.It was with those words, fittingly from her late father-in-law US President Frank Roosevelt, that Mary Roosevelt sent Griffith University’s graduating students on their way whenshe acceptedher honorary doctorate.

Mrs Roosevelt told graduating science, and arts, education and law students to have “courage, fear and common sense along life’s journey” at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre last week when she gave her Occasional Address.

The lifelong teacher was awarded anhonorary doctorate in recognition of her service to education, to the community, and to the University.

“The late British prime minister Sir Winston Churchill said, ‘courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities, because it is the quality that guarantees all others’.

“My late father-in-law President Roosevelt said, ‘we have nothing to fear but fear itself’. Of course, common sense is ‘sound judgment derived from experience rather than study’.

“Knowing this I would like to share some of my life’s journey with you.”

Mrs Roosevelttaught and developed teaching curriculums around the world, including as Principal of the Junior House at the United Nations International School in New York.

Mrs Roosevelt’s life has been one of exploration and a quest to improve education around the world. She contributed to an “International Primary School Curriculum”, which today is known as the “Primary Years Program”, and is part of the International Baccalaureate program, which is taught in 4000 schools around the world.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian O’Connor said Mrs Roosevelt, who is the widow of the late James Roosevelt, son of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, had never been one to accept poor teaching outcomes and questioned them throughout her life.

Griffith University has also benefited from her tireless efforts. Mrs Roosevelt is a member of the Friends of Griffith Board, which fosters stronger ties with American philanthropists and foundations.

In 2008 she was awarded an Honorary Fellowship by theInstitute for Glycomicsand has been US Patron of the Institute’s Childhood Leukaemia project.

Mrs Roosevelt was one of five people to be bestowed with honorary doctorates by Griffith University at its July graduation ceremonies.They were former Queensland Premier Anna Bligh, Queensland Ballet Artistic Director Li Cunxin,Queensland Judge Fleur Kingham, and theatre producer John Frost.