Distant shores call and Errol responds

WHEN the music changes, so does the dance.

For 38 years Errol Payne has obliged, but come December 19, he won't be dancing on.

The last of Central Queensland University's original 1967 staff members is calling it a day.

Internal change would require the 62-year-old to commit to at least a further five years if he wanted to stay on.

"I've seen people who have been reluctant to give it away and I think it's time to pull the pin and relax a bit,'' Errol said.

Raised and initially schooled by correspondence at St Lawrence, Errol's later scholastic results at Rockhampton Grammar led to him earning a bursary which he used to study chemistry at University of Queensland.

In 1967, he started as an assistant chemistry lecturer with the then fledgling Queensland Institute of Technology (Capricornia), initially located in Bolsover Street, Rockhampton.

A few months later, he and his six full-time chemistry diploma students and 33 parttime science and engineering certificate students, became the first to inhabit the current Yaamba Road campus.

By May that year, Errol had helped the Institute's first group of 71 students establish a student union.

To this day it remains one of his proudest achievements. "The students were all new and there was no history of student politics back then,'' he said.

"That was quite an achievement to get that up and running.''

Errol also had the additional role of "lurking'' in the background at student dances in a bid to avert alcohol-related problems.

As you can imagine, over the following four decades Errol's list of achievements grew ? far too many to mention here.

A couple worth noting include the performance of his second-year chemistry students who regularly blitzed statewide rivals at the Tertiary Titration Competition in the 80's.

They won all but three tournaments during the decade.

Then there was Errol's role in the eventual establishment of the Fitzroy Basin Association ? one of Australia's most successful catchment groups.

He chaired the stakeholder meetings which led to its formation.

Errol said he would leave the uni with mixed emotions having to farewell many friends.

"But I'm looking forward to travelling. Travel that is not business-related.''

Australia, the UK and Europe are among his destinations of choice.

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