The third Chancellor
After the sudden death in office of Sir Douglas Menzies, Sir Richard Moulton Eggleston was appointed as Monash’s third Chancellor in 1975. Like Sir Douglas, he felt a Chancellor should be a guiding hand and should step back from the day-to-day running of the University. He was described as an easy and relaxed leader.
Sir Richard was born in 1909. He attended Wesley College and studied law at the University of Melbourne, graduating in 1930. His legal career was varied, practicing as a barrister and King’s Counsel and a stint at the Defence Department (1942-45). He held judgeships on the Commonwealth Industrial Court, the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory (1960-74) and the Supreme Court of Norfolk Island (1960-69). An expert in Australian industrial law and federal trade law, he advised and chaired several committees. Sir Richard was knighted for his services to the legal community in 1971.
Sir Richard maintained his academic life in part whilst serving the court, teaching at the University of Melbourne Law School. After his retirement from the Supreme Court, he took a special part-time appointment at Monash as a law professor in 1974, establishing a course in major issues in evidence. He authored the pioneering text Evidence, Proof and Probability in 1978, which became a landmark work in the field of common law. In 1975, Sir Richard was appointed the third Chancellor of Monash University. He continued to teach as a professor of law at Monash during his Chancellorship, successfully steering his students and the University throughout his tenure.
In 1983 he retired from both the Chancellorship and the Law Faculty. At his retirement, Council member Sir James O’Neill described Sir Richard as ‘a truly good chairman… His leadership style was easy and relaxed – Sir Richard never allowed the pomp or trappings of office to interfere with the proper governance of the University’. Sir Richard chaired the Council with fairness and encouraged debate. ‘Outside the Council Chamber,’ Sir James continued, ‘Sir Richard will be remembered by most members for his warmth, wit and wisdom, and a seemingly endless repertoire of apt anecdotes’.
Sir Richard died in 1991 at his home. His eldest daughter, Elizabeth Eggleston, who was a Monash law academic and director of the Centre for Research into Aboriginal Affairs from 1971, predeceased him.