News

Our alumni shine in 2012


26 October 2012

University of Sydney alumni shine in almost every conceivable area, with an impressive range of prime ministers, chief justices, astronauts, surgeons, artists, scientists and Nobel laureates graduating in the University's 162-year history.

Each year, the University recognises its outstanding graduates with the Alumni Awards, which recognise innovation, stimulation of new ideas and services, dedication, creativity, leadership and community spirit.

Now in their 20th year, the awards are divided into two categories: alumni achievement awards for graduates already established in their careers, and graduate medals, announced on the night, which recognise younger achievers who graduated or completed their degree requirements in the previous year.

This year's recipients of Alumni Awards include:

David Handley

Joint winner of the Alumni Award for Community Achievement for his founding and leadership of Sculpture by the Sea

When David Handley founded Sculpture by the Sea 16 years ago, it was a one-day show that he had to underwrite by putting up his own apartment as security. The public sculpture exhibition has now grown into one of Australia's iconic cultural events and a major tourist beacon, attracting more than 500,000 visitors per year and also running at Cottesloe Beach in Perth and Aarhus in Denmark.

After finishing his arts and law degrees in 1989, David worked as a solicitor before finding his inspiration at a sculpture park in Prague. David also recently founded the website What Degree, Which University, an independent website written for students by students that provides comparisons and contrasts between different courses and universities.

David Handley
David Handley

Mary Kostakidis

Joint winner of the Alumni Award for Community Achievement for her role as chair of the Sydney Peace Foundation and human rights leadership in the wider community

From her trailblazing career as Australia's first female presenter of a prime time news bulletin to her role as chair of the University's Sydney Peace Foundation and as a human rights campaigner, Mary Kostakidis epitomises how a broad liberal arts education can be the foundation for critical engagement with society.

Mary graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 1977 before joining the management team that set up and developed SBS Television and served as a newsreader and face of SBS for 20 years until 2007. She was chair of the Sydney Peace Foundation in 2010 and 2011, particularly championing the cause of Wikileaks. Mary also stood on the National Human Rights Consultation Committee in 2009, and among many other community roles served as an ambassador for Beyond Blue and a member of the Drug and Alcohol Council.

Mary Kostakidis
Mary Kostakidis

Belinda Hutchinson AM

Recipient of the Alumni Award for Professional Achievement for her landmark roles in the business world and efforts to open new horizons for women in the corporate sector

Belinda Hutchinson has forged a path for women in a traditionally male-dominated industry. After a successful career in investment banking, she made headlines when she was appointed the only female board member of Sydney Water. Since then, she has served as director of some of Australia's largest companies, including Macquarie Bank, Telstra, Coles, Energy Australia and Tab. She was made chair of global insurer QBE in 2010, making her one of just a handful of female chairs in Australian corporate life.

While she initially enrolled in architecture, after two weeks she knew it wasn't for her. After some quick counselling, she found her niche with a Bachelor of Economics, and graduated in 1976.

Belinda Hutchinson AM
Belinda Hutchinson AM

David Hunter

Recipient of the International Alumni Award for his pioneering leadership in researching the variety of factors that cause cancer

Epidemiologist Dr David Hunter is recognised for his pioneering leadership and research into the variety of factors that cause cancer, in particular through global studies that have built huge databases of information. David has led two major studies: the Nurses' Health Studies (and a similar sized follow-up study of nurses); and the Breast and Prostate Cancer Cohort Consortium, encompassing major world epidemiological cohort studies of 750,000 participants. He is also the principal investigator of a four-year grant from the US National Cancer Institute to study the genetic and biological mechanisms that contribute to breast cancer. Dr Hunter also collaborates with researchers in Tanzania to investigate the relationship between nutrition and HIV.

After graduating from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery in 1982, David went on to Harvard University, where he is now Vincent L Gregory Professor in Cancer Prevention and Dean for Academic Affairs.

David Hunter
David Hunter

Eric Knight

Recipient of the Young Alumni Award for Achievement for his significant contribution to public debate for his innovative approaches to solving economic and environmental challenges

Although it's been just five years since Eric Knight graduated with a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws in 2007, he has already made a significant and energetic contribution to both academic and public life.

After graduating from the University of Sydney, Eric travelled to the University of Oxford with a Rhodes Scholarship, earning his PhD with a thesis on the finance of climate, which explored the best means of using financial markets to stimulate investment in climate change technologies. He was also asked to attend the Australia 2020 Summit on this topic in 2008.

Since graduating from Oxford, Eric has engaged in public debate on a wide range of issues, including at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas and TEDx. Eric now works with Boston Consulting Group, consulting on economics to business and government. He published his first book, Reframe, earlier this year.

Eric Knight
Eric Knight

Follow University of Sydney Media on Twitter

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