Remembering Jock Alexander Mackinnon AM

By Mrs Annette Carter, College Historian

Mr Jock Mackinnon AM was undeniably a figure whose impact still echoes through the Radford College campus.

Serving for 10 years as the Principal at Pulteney Grammar School, Jock Mackinnon felt that after such a time the school needed a change of leadership, so he went about looking for his next challenge.

When enquiring about the position of founding Principal for the new Anglican school (that was to become Radford College), he was initially concerned that his age would be a problem. He wrote an initial letter to Dr T.B. Millar AO to ask whether his age, of 54, would preclude him from being considered. Millar’s response, assuring Mackinnon that age was no barrier to merit (as long as there was at least five years until retirement), allowed Mackinnon to apply for the position.

Selected from a pool of 40 applicants, Mackinnon emerged as one of the five short-listed candidates. He was appointed to the position on 22 December 1982 and moved to Canberra in 1983 to take up the position in the middle of the year when construction had only just begun. T.B. Millar signed off the appointment letter with “We look forward to your joining with us in this venture”.

Supported by his devoted wife, Elizabeth, they both immersed themselves in the school community.

In 1988, Mackinnon marked a special milestone; witnessing the inaugural cohort of Year 8 students matriculate into Year 12. This was the year that Mackinnon thought suitable to retire, having seen five years in the position. In the words of Chair of the Board, Lawrie Willett “I do not believe Radford could have found a better foundation Principal”. He then embarked on a new chapter upon his retirement, guiding visitors through the corridors of Parliament House, showcasing his love of history.

Both the Mackinnon Senior School and the J.A. Mackinnon Oval are named after him.

Jock Mackinnon died in 2016 at the age of 87.