JCU alumni Emeritus Professor Nola Alloway and Professor Trevor Bond met in 1970 on their first day of class and have shared a lifelong friendship and association with the University.
Both Nola and Trevor enrolled in 1970 in the teacher education program, with Nola fresh out of high school and Trevor already a teacher at Pimlico State High School upgrading his diploma into a Bachelor of Education.
A momentous year for JCU, Nola recalls Queen Elizabeth II’s visit to campus to provide her royal assent to formally open the university. Nola was among the small group of students who had the privilege of meeting Her Majesty, and despite declaring herself a Republican, recalls it with joy as a significant occasion.
Queen Elizabeth II visiting James Cook University, Townsville campus in 1970 in front of the Eddie Koiki Mabo Library.
As Trevor recalls, the teacher education program offered by JCU in the 1970s was regarded as the most innovative of its kind across Australia at the time. Rather than studying three years in a particular field of expertise before completing a final year diploma of teaching, the Bachelor of Education at JCU offered a four year program where students were immersed in pedagogy and educational theory at the same time as they studied their subject specialisations.
Trevor remembers attending conferences across Australia and having others marvel at the innovative program JCU was running. He jokes that he used to look around, wondering if his BEd was the innovative program as claimed. Nonetheless, as Trevor quickly insists, it truly was an innovative program which changed Bachelor of Education degrees across Australia.
Both Nola and Trevor were the first in their families to “walk through the doors of the academy”, as Nola put it. The sea of hands that shot up during their orientation week in 1970 revealed that they were not alone – most of the students in those days hailed from rural areas from the Atherton Tablelands to the Burdekin and out west. It was the first time many of the students had even left home.
Then known as James Cook University of North Queensland, Nola and Trevor explained the immense value-add to the region which the Bachelor of Education program had on its students, particularly the female cohort. Through training and injecting quality teachers into the region, the value-add was thus imparted upon North Queensland. Nola and Trevor joked that they have had later students inform them that they also taught their parents in earlier years!
Both Trevor and Nola continued onto postgraduate studies with JCU. Trevor recalls the memorable experience of being perhaps one of only a few people in Australia to be using emails in 1986 on the rather embryonic remote terminals on campus.
Planning his study leave trips abroad to England and Switzerland, Trevor remembers being astounded that he could type into this machine one day and come back the next and watch a response come through from England! These trips were vital to his collection of data for his PhD.
With a few diversions in between, both Nola and Trevor continued their time at JCU through teaching and research right through to Nola’s retirement in 2019.
Trevor’s research in the fields of cognitive development in children and the development of scientific thinking in adolescents proved to be particularly illuminating; his work in Rasch measurement informs national testing programs in many countries, including NAPLAN in Australia. His book, now in its fourth edition, is the most influential text in the field, and he credits its standing to the opportunities JCU provided him to take study leave.
Meanwhile, Nola’s research portfolio focused on early childhood education, literacy education, and English as an area of curriculum study, with a particular emphasis on the relationship between gender and learning. She consulted with governments in all States and Territories across Australia and has worked internationally as well, opportunities which she is immensely grateful for.
In the early 2000s, she entered into academic leadership, holding positions such as Chair of Academic Board, and the Dean and Head of School of Education, before in 2009 she was appointed the Pro Vice Chancellor of Arts, Education and Social Sciences. After an institutional restructure, she became the Dean of the College of Arts, Society and Education in 2014, the position she held until her retirement in 2019. In 2019, in recognition of her ‘contributions to Literacy/English Education research’ Nola was honoured with an Australian Council of Deans of Education award for her ‘Outstanding Contribution to Education.’
A story of a lifelong friendship and a fifty-year association with the university, Trevor and Nola’s narrative is riddled with full-circle moments. Trevor, already a staff member at the university, was actually on the interview panel to appoint Nola in the 1980s. In the 2010s, Trevor would have to submit his leave requests to Nola, who had moved into a management position to become Dean of College of Arts, Society and Education.
As first-in-family foundation students from the North Queensland region to renowned professors who have influenced generations of budding teachers, and friends throughout, Trevor and Nola’s story truly is emblematic of JCU’s enduring mission, and is a one to be treasured by our alumni community.