Graduate Medals

Edmund Barton Medal (master's by coursework)

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The Edmund Barton Medal was established in 2011 to honour master’s by coursework graduates who have achieved academic excellence and enriched the diverse life of the University and the
broader community.

Sir Edmund Barton PC GCMG QC (MA 1870) was the first Prime Minister of Australia and founding Justice of the High Court of Australia. Arguably his greatest contribution to Australia was his management of the federation movement through the 1890s. Elected at the inaugural 1901 federal election, Barton resigned from the position of Prime Minister of Australia in 1903 and became a judge of Australia’s High Court.

At the University of Sydney, Barton was one of the rowing four that took part in the first inter-university boat race, held in Melbourne in 1870. He played football for Sydney University Football Club and was a performer in the dramatic performance staged for the Duke of Edinburgh, who visited the University in 1868. He was a Senate Fellow from 1880 to 1889 and from 1892 to 1920. Barton was the second and last MP for the University, succeeding Sir William Charles Windeyer in August 1879, until the seat was abolished in 1880.


Rita and John Cornforth Medal (PhD)

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The Rita and John Cornforth Medal was established in 2011 to honour PhD graduates who have achieved academic excellence and enriched the diverse life of the University and the broader community.

Sir John Warcup ‘Kappa’ Cornforth AC CBE FRS (BSc ’38 MSc ’39 DSc ’77) and Lady Rita Cornforth (BSc ’37 MSc ’38) were among the most outstanding students of their respective years. John won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry (with Vladimir Prelog) in 1975 for his work on the stereochemistry of enzyme-catalysed reactions. John was deaf since his teens, and Rita relayed speech to him by lip-reading throughout their life together.

John and Rita were both awarded postgraduate scholarships in 1938 to work at the University of Oxford, and moved there together. The Cornforths had a profound influence on the study of penicillin during the war. Rita collaborated with John on his enzyme work and was central to its success, particularly because of her experimental skills.

John was knighted in 1977 and awarded the Corday-Morgan Medal in 1953, the Royal Medal in 1976 and the Copley Medal in 1982. Rita passed away late 2012 and John passed away late 2013


Sister Alison Bush Medal (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander)

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The Sister Alison Bush Medal was established in 2012 to honour academic excellence and contribution to the diverse life of the University and the broader community by an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander graduate.

Sister Alison Bush AO, RN CM FRACOG (Hon) FRCNA (Hon) FCN (NSW) (Hon), was descended from the Ngalakan clan Ngukurr (Roper River), in the traditional language group of Garawa Borroloola. She and her twin sister Jennifer were members of the Stolen Generation taken to Groote Eylandt.

A true icon and pioneer, Sister Alison dedicated her life in service to others. She was the first Aboriginal midwife to work at a major maternity hospital in New South Wales, delivering more than 1000 babies during her 40 years of faithful service at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPA). She had a long history with the Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery at the University of Sydney, presenting lectures and giving clinical advice to students on placement at RPA. Staff from the faculty remember her as a leading light for nursing education.

Sister Alison spent the last decade of her life travelling to remote regions in fulfilment of her role as Aboriginal Liaison Midwife, bringing compassionate and culturally sensitive care to Aboriginal mothers and their babies.


John C Harsanyi Medal (international student)

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The John C Harsanyi Medal was established in 2012 to honour academic excellence and contribution to the diverse life of the University and the broader community by an international student.

John Charles Harsanyi (MA ’53 DScEc ’95) was a Hungarian-Australian-American economist who won the 1994 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics along with John Nash and Reinhard Selten. A survivor of the Nazi Holocaust and a refugee from Stalinist Hungary, he emigrated to Australia in 1950 after completing a PhD in
philosophy and sociology at the University of Budapest. Arriving with little English and limited financial resources, he worked full time, first as a factory worker and then as an insurance clerk, to put himself through postgraduate evening classes at the University of Sydney.

He graduated with a Master of Arts in 1953, and later completed a second PhD in economics at Stanford University. After several years in Australia, he and his family eventually settled in the United States.

Harsanyi is best known for his contributions to the study of game theory, decision theory, utilitarian ethics and the philosophy of mathematics, and the practical application of these concepts to economics, sociology, political science, and political and moral philosophy.


Nigel C Barker Medal (sporting)

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The Nigel C Barker Medal was established in 2012 to honour graduates who have achieved academic excellence and enriched the diverse life of the University and the broader community through sporting achievement.

Nigel Chase Barker (BE 1909) was an outstanding all-round athlete and sportsman. He represented the University of Sydney and New South Wales on a number of occasions, achieving particular success in rugby union, even against traditional powerhouse New Zealand.

Though he was selected for the 1904 Olympic Games in St Louis, injury forced him to withdraw. In 1905 he set an Australasian record of 48.5 seconds for the 440 yard race, which was not broken until 1937. He then competed in the 1906 ‘Intercalated/Interim’ Olympic Games in Athens where he was the most successful Australian, winning bronze medals in both the 100m and 400m races.

Although the International Olympic Committee subsequently decided not to recognise the 1906 games in Athens as an official Summer Games, Nigel C Barker is arguably the University of Sydney’s first Olympian, Olympic medallist and world-record holder in athletics.