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Lumen Summer 2013 Issue
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Polglase Bequest supports pursuit of science

Norman and Patricia Polglase had known for many years that they would remember the University of Adelaide in their Wills.

It is only after their passing that we have come to learn about the lives of the loving and generous couple behind the Norman and Patricia Polglase Scholarship.

Norman studied at the University of Adelaide from 1939 to 1946, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree.

Art Gallery of South Australia patron, Max Carter AO, was Norman's best friend through university and for many years after. He says he owes a lot to Norman's friendship during those years.

"He was well regarded at the University - he was not only a bright student but he got on well with everybody and had a great sense of humour," says Max.

"He was a gentleman and it was one of the pleasures of my life that I knew him."

Norman met his then wife-to-be, Patricia, through a mutual love of films at a WEA film course. At the time they were both well established in their careers - Norman as an Industrial Chemist with ICI (Imperial Chemical Industry) and Patricia as a Deputy Matron at the Hutt Street Private Hospital.

They married in 1953 and, apart from living interstate when Norman was transferred within ICI, they spent most of their lives in Adelaide, where they indulged in their shared passion for books, music, film and entertaining their close friends.

With no children of their own, Norman and Patricia's nieces Ann Fuller and Wendy Joyner were happy to share their memories of 'Uncle Norman' and 'Aunty Pat'.

"They were very avant-garde and sociable - he loved wine, she loved food; between them they were very good hosts," says Wendy.

"Uncle Norman was very dapper and well-groomed; a charming and earnest man and a great entertainer," adds Ann.

Both Norman and Patricia were voracious readers, Wendy and Ann estimating that their two-bedroom unit would have contained about 3000 books - a library built around their shared interests.

A passionate photographer, Norman shared his enthusiasm at length with anyone who cared to hear about the mysteries of cameras and film development, and he was a member of several photographic clubs. Leaving ICI after more than twenty years of service, Norman went on to teach small business studies at TAFE until he retired.

Norman passed away in 2005, at which time his family learned of his and Patricia's desire to leave a bequest to the University of Adelaide. Following Patricia's death in 2009, the family was reassured to hear that the bequest was to be applied according to the wishes of Norman and Patricia.

Established in 2010, the Norman and Patricia Polglase Scholarship is awarded to students commencing a full-time Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) or Masters by research program at the University of Adelaide in the Faculty of Sciences.

PhD student Sophie Underwood was honoured to be selected as a recipient of the Scholarship in 2011. Graduating with Honours in a Bachelor of Science (Space Science and Astrophysics) in 2009, Sophie is now undertaking further research in astrophysics and particle physics and is extremely grateful for the support the scholarship has given her.

"The additional funding has aided me in many ways, including paying my living expenses, which enables me to devote more time to my studies, to travel to conferences and to collaborate with a fellow physicist in New York. It has also helped me to form stronger ties with other physicists which will be crucial for future research endeavours."

The Executive Dean of the Faculty of Sciences, Professor Bob Hill, is also very grateful to Norman and Patricia for the support the scholarship provides to Sciences students and their research.

"Generous donations like this allow our best and brightest students to pursue their research qualifications without the stress and burden of financial hardship. Students undertaking a Masters or PhD program with us may end up changing the world with the outcomes of their research career," he says.

While Norman's own studies in Science in the 1930s and '40s would have been very different from Sophie Underwood's, his niece Ann believes he would have taken an active interest in Sophie's area of research.

"If he were alive to see his bequest he would have loved to have learned about the research of recipients such as Sophie," says Ann.

"I think the fact that it's a new frontier would have excited him; he was always interested in what was new and different; he loved progress and new ideas."

story by Genevieve Sanchez

Norman Polglase at his 1947 graduation

Norman Polglase at his 1947 graduation
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Norman and Patricia Polglase

Norman and Patricia Polglase
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