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McGrath, Kelvin Paul (Kel) (1908–1979)

Kelvin McGrath, n.d.

Kelvin McGrath, n.d.

The highest honour that the Institute can bestow in recognition of outstanding service and contribution to forestry is the N. W. Jolly Medal. Commemorating the name of one of the most deservedly famous men in the foundation period of Australian forestry, the N. W. Jolly Medal has been awarded to Mr. K. P. [Kelvin Paul] McGrath, now Associate Director of Forestry Studies in the Australian National University. This is the sixth occasion since its inception on which the medal has been awarded and Mr. McGrath now joins a small but very distinguished group in Australian forestry.

Mr. McGrath's career, since graduating from the Australian Forestry School in 1929, covers a breadth and scope which is rare in Australian forestry. He served in the Queensland Forest Service for 15 years, ultimately as a District Forester, then, after several years as Logging Manager with Queensland's biggest sawmilling company he joined the staff of the Australian Forestry School in 1946. During his 20 years with the School, interrupted only by study leave in U.S.A. and three F.A.O. assignments to South America, he has played a prominent part in the training and development of professional attitudes of the bulk of Australia's foresters now in practice. As acting Principal of the School from 1959 to 1965, he had the unusual and complicated task of administering its transfer to the Australian National University, and its early stages as the Department of Forestry in the University. It is due, in no small measure, to Mr. McGrath's skill and dedication that this highly desirable change has been effected and the potential dangers of such a radical move averted.

But perhaps the future will measure Mr. McGrath's contribution as much for his unofficial professional activities as for his outstanding work in his official capacities. Most graduates of the A.F.S. and the Department of Forestry will have been influenced by his dynamic expounding of a managerial concept of foresty, and a warm sincere interest in themselves as people. He has for long been a most active member of the Institute, serving at various times as Chairman of the A.C.T. Division, Secretary to Council and on the organising committee for the second General Conference. Fully aware of the obstacles, he is nevertheless a powerful advocate of the Institute developing its potential as an active force in shaping the future of forestry in Australia. His efforts in this direction led to the delegation on which he served, from the Institute to the Prime Minister, in 1959.

The increasing interest by the Commonwealth in forestry since that delegation is ample testimony of the contribution which this award recognizes.

Original Publication

  • Australian Forestry, vol 30, no 4, 1966, p 254

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Citation details

'McGrath, Kelvin Paul (Kel) (1908–1979)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 14 August 2020.

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