honorary awards

Kenneth George Coles

The degree of Doctor of the University was conferred upon Kenneth George Coles at the Engineering ceremony held at 11.30am on Friday 9 April 1999.

Kenneth Coles

Kenneth Coles, photo, 'The University of Sydney News' 22 April 1999, University of Sydney Archives.

Professor Judy Raper, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, and Ken Coles

Professor Judy Raper, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, and Ken Coles, photo, courtesy of the Warren Centre for Advanced Engineering news bulletin, May 1999.



I have the honour to present Kenneth George Coles for admission to the degree of Doctor of the University.

Over a remarkable career, Ken Coles has contributed widely, not only to this University but also to Australian industry, commerce and society.

A graduate in engineering from The University of Sydney, a Fellow of the Institution of Engineers Australia and a Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, he, like many engineers, went on to apply his knowledge and skills in management and corporate roles. He has been recognised for this by being elected a Fellow of the Institute of Management and of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

During a long and effective professional career his roles have included Managing Director of K G Coles & Co., Executive Chairman of Australian Materials Handling Development and, very notably, as Executive Chairman of Conveyor Company of Australia for 34 years. He has been non-executive director of many companies in a diverse range of areas including Stockland Trust, NRMA, NRMA Insurance, Chatham Investment, Permanent Trustee and, of course, Coles Myer.

Taking on a broader sense of responsibility towards his profession and its future, he undertook the roles of chairman of the National Metal and Engineering Training Board and of the Metal Trades Industry Association's National Technical Committee. His knowledge and expertise were also called upon at state and national level as a director of the Innovation Council of New South Wales and as a member of the science and industry forum of the Australian Academy of Science.

A most remarkable characteristic that we celebrate is the breadth of his humanity and the extensive nature of his contributions to public life across all age groups. At the pre-school level he is a dedicated supporter of the Abercrombie Street Child Care Centre, at high school level his contributions through the Ascham Foundation have contributed significantly to enhancing the. educational experience of its young women, while at university level he continues to serve on the Council of International House. A passionate supporter of the arts, we especially remark on his sponsorship of young singers within the Australian Opera.

The University of Sydney has been fortunate to be a major beneficiary of his contribution to public life. For fourteen years he has served this University as a member of its governing body, the Senate, as a Fellow elected by and from the graduates of the University. For all of that time he served also on its Finance Committee and was its chair for five years. He brought to the University the strengths and wisdom of an engineering mind experienced in the commercial management of complex organisations.

Ken Coles' heart has clearly always been in engineering and at this, an engineering graduation ceremony, we remember how the Warren Centre for Advanced Engineering at The University of Sydney has benefited directly and significantly from a long and consistent contribution to its work. As director from 1984 until last year, his wise counsel, his university and industry linkages, and his commercial acumen made major contributions to the Centre's deliberations. He was not only an active Board member but also an active participant in many of the project activities of the Centre with special mention of those on local area networks and on "winning" through new product design.

We therefore celebrate a lifetime of achievement built upon an engineering degree from this University - an excellent role model for those graduating today.

It is with great pleasure Chancellor, that I now present to you Kenneth George Coles, for admission to the degree of Doctor of the University and I invite you to confer the degree upon him.