News

Celebrating Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir AC CVO


13 December 2012

At the farewell reception, acclaimed Chinese Australian artist Jiawei Shen presented a new portrait to Professor Marie Bashir.
At the farewell reception, acclaimed Chinese Australian artist Jiawei Shen presented a new portrait to Professor Marie Bashir.

Marie Bashir has served the University of Sydney for more than 50 years, as a student in medicine and music, a lecturer, a professor, and as chancellor.

On Saturday 15 December, she concludes her term as Chancellor, during which she has overseen monumental steps forward in research, teaching and social inclusion.

"As our 17th chancellor for the past five-and-a-half years Professor Bashir has served the University with distinction, energy and warmth," said Dr Michael Spence, Vice-Chancellor of the University.

"Her involvement and genuine interest in every aspect of university life, especially our students, is legendary. She has always been a role model for others and she has the wonderful ability to make people feel at ease in her presence," he said.

The current Governor of NSW and one of Australia's most prominent academics and public figures, Professor Bashir began her lifelong involvement with the University of Sydney in the 1950s as a student of both medicine and music and a senior student at the Women's College. She later returned to the University as a lecturer and then a clinical professor of psychiatry.

Throughout her time in medicine and academia, she took special interest in children's services, adolescent health and depression, psychiatry and mental health services, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, medical education and health issues in developing countries, education for health professionals, and telemedicine and new technologies for health service delivery.

Lynette Riley (right) presented Professor Marie Bashir with a Wiradjuri Cloak made from kangaroo skin as a gift from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff at the University.
Lynette Riley (right) presented Professor Marie Bashir with a Wiradjuri Cloak made from kangaroo skin as a gift from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff at the University.

At a special farewell reception on 11 December, Professor Bashir said: "As a student here, a graduate and a teacher within these hallowed halls - a term symbolic as well as realistic - it has been a truly an inspiration to serve as chancellor."

During her farewell reception, Professor Bashir unveiled a new portrait of her by acclaimed Chinese Australian artist Jiawei Shen, which will hang in the University's Great Hall. Read about Jiawei Shen's latest exhibition.

The ceremony was heralded by the Great Hall organ's new trumpet stop, named the Chancellor's Trumpet, which she inaugurated last week.

"We are indeed privileged to be able to count Marie Bashir as one of us," said Dr Spence. "We are sad to be losing her as Chancellor but happy in the knowledge that she will always be a deeply loved, distinguished member of the University of Sydney family."

Eariler in December, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Strategy and Services) Professor Shane Houston and a group of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff from around the University presented the Chancellor with a special farewell gift - a Wiradjuri Cloak made from kangaroo skin. The cloak, traditionally used for ceremonial purposes, recognises Professor Bashir's contribution to the University, as well as her dedication and support in working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

In her farewell speech, Professor Bashir made particular mention of her work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people during her time as Chancellor:

"There is the growth not only of the Koori Centre and the ever-increasing number of students of Indigenous background, but also retention rates supported by the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME) program. The overall cultural life of this university continues to flourish," she said.

"I would also like to say I could never find words adequate to express our gratitude to the exceptional population of benefactors, whose generosity this year has exceeded all expectations.

"Friends and colleagues and family, I thank you all and can assure you that in every way that I am able I shall continue to serve my university throughout my life," she said.


Follow University of Sydney Media on Twitter

Media enquiries: Katie Szittner, 02 9351 2261, 0478 316 809, katie.szittner@sydney.edu.au