In memory of former Vice-Chancellor Sir Bruce Williams

9 August 2010

Sir Bruce Williams, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sydney from 1967 to 1981.
Sir Bruce Williams, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sydney from 1967 to 1981.

The distinguished former Vice-Chancellor Sir Bruce Williams has died aged 91.

Professor Sir Bruce Rodda Williams KBE was Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sydney, from 1967 to 1981. He continued to take a keen interest in the affairs of the University and later served as a Fellow of the University Senate, appointed by the Minister for Education from 1994 to 1997 and for that period was Chair of the Senate's Finance Committee.

"Sir Bruce Williams was an outstanding Vice-Chancellor in an important period of change at the University", said Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir AC CVO, the University's Chancellor. "He provided strong and dignified leadership which took the reputation of the University to even greater heights. Sir Bruce will be forever remembered with gratitude."

Sir Bruce, BA Hons (Melb), MA (Adel), HonDLitt (Sydney and Keele), HonLLD (Melb and Manchester), HonDEcon (Qld), FASSA, had a long and distinguished career at the forefront of economic and education policy in Australian and the United Kingdom.

He was born at Warrigal, Victoria and was educated at Wesley College and the University of Melbourne. After academic positions in Adelaide, Belfast and North Staffordshire he became Professor of Economics at Manchester and a consultant to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

While in England he took part in the creation of two innovative universities, at Keele and Lancaster and became economic advisor to the Ministry of Technology and a member of the Prices and Incomes Board.

That experience influenced his views while on the Board of the Reserve Bank of Australia from 1969 to 1981.

He returned to Australia in 1967 to become Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sydney. His period in charge coincided with the rise of student radicalism and protests against the Vietnam War.

During his tenure he was chair of the Australian Vice-Chancellors committee 1972-74, and chaired several important national government enquiries.  He was the President of the committee of Enquiry into Education and Training 1976-79, and Chairman of the Review of the Discipline of Engineering 1978-1988.

He was knighted KBE for services to education and government in 1980.

He returned to England for a period to direct the New Technical Change Centre and was a visiting Professor at the Imperial College of Science and technology.

He was keenly interested in a wide variety of cultural affairs and was Chairman of the Sydney International Piano Competition Australia from 1988-2003. He also helped establish the Cladan Cultural Exchange Institute of Australia which he chaired from 1976 to 1982.

Sir Bruce was prolific writer and is the author of 13 books on industry, investment and education.

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