Vice-Chancellor among those honoured on Australia Day

26 January 2006

Professor Gavin Brown
Professor Gavin Brown

Professor Gavin Brown, who celebrates ten years as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sydney in July, has been made an officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in the Australia Day honours.

He is one of a prominent group of University staff who feature in the honours list: others include physicists Harry Messel and 'Dr Karl' Kruszelnicki; Ian Hickie, director of the Brain and Mind Research Institute; and perinatal specialist Professor David Henderson-Smart.

Professor Brown's citation recognises his service to tertiary education in Australia and internationally as an advocate for excellence and through the establishment of strategic links with overseas institutions. It also recognises his contribution to mathematical research.

The award comes 30 years to the day after his arrival in Australia to take up the chair of pure mathematics at UNSW.

Born in Fife, Scotland, he graduated from St Andrews University with an MA (First Class Honours) in 1963 before gaining a PhD at the University of Newcastle. He held research positions at the universities of Edinburgh and Liverpool before emigrating with his family to Australia.

Professor Harry Messel
Professor Harry Messel

He spent 16 years at UNSW, including three years as dean of science, then moved to the University of Adelaide in 1992 where he was vice-chancellor for two years.

He took up his current position as Vice-Chancellor and Principal at the University of Sydney on 1 July 1996, and has guided the University to a pre-eminent position in teaching and research. In 2005 Sydney was ahead of all other Australian universities in Australian Research Council grants, National Health and Medical Research Council grants and was in the top band for teaching and learning recognition.

Professor Brown has also been instrumental in developing the University’s international reputation. He is a former chair of the elite Group of Eight Australian universities, president of the international Academic Consortium 21, and is vice-chairman of the Association of Pacific Rim Universities, whose annual presidents’ meeting will be held at the University of Sydney this year.

Still an active mathematical researcher, Professor Brown has been awarded the Sir Edmund Whittaker Memorial Prize and the Australian Mathematical Society Medal for his work on Fourier analysis.

Professor Brown, 63, had his contract extended by the University Senate last year and will remain as Vice-Chancellor until mid-2008.

However, the Vice-Chancellor's length of service pales next to that of Professor Harry Messel, who has been appointed a companion in the Order of Australia (AC).

Dr Karl Kruszelnicki
Dr Karl Kruszelnicki

Professor Messel was head of School of Physics from 1952 to 1987. In 1954 he established the Science Foundation for Physics (then the Nuclear Research Foundation) to support science education, research and training within the School of Physics and to promote science to the broader community.

Taking science to the community is also the speciality of Dr Karl Kruszelnicki, who has been made a member of the Order of Australia (AM). Dr Kruszelnicki - or Dr Karl as he is usually known - is the Science Foundation's Julius Sumner Miller Fellow, and is a popular radio and television personality as well as a prolific author.

Dr Ian Hickie, executive director of the University's flagship Brain and Mind Research Institute, has also been appointed an AM. Professor Hickie, a professor of psychiatry, was also the inaugural chief executive of the national depression initiative, beyondblue.

Professor David Henderson-Smart, a perinatal health specialist at the Queen Elizabeth II Research Institute, has been made an AO for services to medicine, while Professor John Carter, who has been appointed a pro-vice-chancellor at Newcastle University, has been appointed an AM for his services to civil engineering.

Also honoured is Emeritus Professor Charles Blackburn, now 97, who has been appointed an AC in recognition of his service to academic medicine and medical education. Professor Blackburn established the state's first clinical research unit at RPAH in 1949 and is a former chairman of medicine and fellow of Senate.

An AM was also awarded to Associate Professor Ross Steele for his service to tertiary education through the promotion of the French language and culture in Australia, and to the community through support for a range of arts organisations.

Contact: Jake O'Shaughnessy

Phone: 0421 617861