Alumni in Focus: Ron Layton

This month’s Golden Jubilee celebrations will mark 50 years since Friends of the Library President Ron Layton graduated with a Diploma of Social Studies from the University of Adelaide in 1969.

Ron Layton

Ron will join fellow alumni to don academic dress once again and participate in a re-enactment of his graduation ceremony in Bonython Hall. He is October’s Alumni in Focus.

What are your favourite hobbies?

Now that I’m retired I’m addicted to eclectic reading, then there’s gardening and anything Scottish.

Favourite place to eat when in Adelaide?

Not quite in Adelaide but the Organic Market in Stirling is a frequent haunt.

If I could go back to my University days I would…

I’ve never really left but if I could go back to the early 1960s, I would’ve chosen a different degree to start with, one that was more ‘me.’

Most prized possession?

I spent a lot of time in New Zealand and in 1985 I was inducted as an honorary Maori elder and presented with a priceless Taniwha, an intricately carved bone sacred artefact. I’m never without one around my neck to ensure my connection to country even though I’m not a Kiwi.

I can’t get enough of…

The written word, preferably on paper.

Something that makes you smile?

A pleasant acknowledgement from another person.

Something you are grateful for?

Obtaining a stunning scholarship in 1961 to gain entry to University.

If I could pursue a different career I would…

Probably choose something in the rural sector as that is where my heart is.

The most valuable lesson I’ve learned…

I find this very difficult to respond to but it would be to love and respect all things animate and inanimate.

I cannot get through the day without…

A newspaper and a coffee.

Three words your closest friends use to describe you?

Enquiring, a person of integrity, and family-orientated.

Your definition of success?

There are so many notions of success, but the one that’s most important to me is around having tried something to the best of my ability.

My mother taught me…

Born during World War Two and growing up in its shadow, my mother ensured that I held and showed great respect for ex-service people – we owe them so much!

Your career path in two sentences or less?

Starting in the oil, mining and rural sectors, I then moved into the social justice field in executive roles, then in ‘retirement’ moved into professional and academic pursuits up to international levels.

Biggest career highlight?

Perhaps being on the executive team with Ian Cox who was one of the great movers and shakers in creating South Australia as a leading social justice crucible during the 1970s and 1980s, the effects of which are still felt today.

2019 is the year I…

Focus on all that is the Friends of the University Library.

The biggest risk I’ve taken…

Is probably touring Europe and Scandinavia with our two young children when they were aged two and four years old.

A piece of advice for the Class of 2019?

University offers such incredible opportunities for developing the self in all sorts of ways. Make the most of it.

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