Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Alice Hoy (1893–1976)

by Julann Meabank

This article was published:

Alice Hoy (1893-1976), educationist, was born on 9 February 1893 at Ararat, Victoria, youngest of eleven children of Rueben Hoy, a Victorian-born blacksmith, and his wife Bridget, née Brennan, from Ireland. Alice was educated at Kensington State and University High schools, and was awarded exhibitions and scholarships to the University of Melbourne (B.A., 1914; Dip.Ed., 1915; M.A., 1916; LL.B., 1927). She graduated with first-class honours, winning the Wyselaskie scholarship in political economy and the Dwight prize in history.

In 1915 the Education Department sent Hoy to University High, a 'practising school' for trainee-teachers. She gained rapid promotion and in 1924 became mistress of method at Melbourne Teachers' College, with an attachment (1926-58) as senior lecturer at the university's school of education. Having written a textbook, Civics for Australian Schools (1925), she revised it continually and new editions were published almost annually until 1945. In 1938 she studied teacher-training schemes in Britain and North America. Her career culminated in her appointment on 21 December 1949 as principal of the Education Department's new secondary training centre at the university. A strict disciplinarian, she inaugurated a successful training for secondary teachers, whose numbers had been depleted since the abandonment of financial assistance for trainees during the Depression. She retired in February 1958.

Miss Hoy influenced education in Victoria for over fifty years. Although she drew her ideas from numerous schools of thought, she favoured the late nineteenth and early twentieth century English view of education, and had little time for American progressivism. Her loyalty to the work and values of the Education Department, and her steady attention to the implementation of its policies, stemmed from her belief in the efficacy of education for social good and from her faith in the department's ability to advance that goal. Respected by colleagues for her integrity, penetrating intelligence, dry wit, fluent and precise command of language, and 'her stinging sallies', she was also an influential council-member of University Women's College (1936-64), the Australian College of Education (1959-71) and Monash University (interim council 1958-61, council 1961-71). In 1961 she published a history of University High School, A City Built to Music.

Late in life, Hoy received considerable honours: she was made an honorary fellow (1960) of the Australian College of Education and appointed O.B.E. (1964); the Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science awarded her the Mackie medal in 1967 and Monash University conferred an honorary LL.D. on her in 1972. She died on 4 September 1976 at Pascoe Vale and was buried in Ararat cemetery; her estate was sworn for probate at $302,730. A portrait by Chris White hangs in the foyer of the Alice Hoy Building, Institute of Education, University of Melbourne.

Select Bibliography

  • A. H. Ramsay, Report on Certain Phases of Education (Melb, 1949)
  • Education Department (Victoria), Vision and Realisation, L. J. Blake ed (Melb, 1973)
  • D. Garden, The Melbourne Teacher Training Colleges (Melb, 1982)
  • University of Melbourne Gazette, 1976, no 4, p 15
  • J. Meabank, A Contract with Education: Alice Hoy 1893-1976 (M.Ed. thesis, University of Melbourne, 1988)
  • A. Hoy's record, Education Dept (Victoria) Archives.

Citation details

Julann Meabank, 'Hoy, Alice (1893–1976)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1996, accessed online 23 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (Melbourne University Press), 1996

View the front pages for Volume 14

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


9 February, 1893
Ararat, Victoria, Australia


4 September, 1976 (aged 83)
Pascoe Vale, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Cultural Heritage

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