Honorary awards

Dr John Samuel Yu

The degree of Doctor of Medicine (honoris causa) was conferred upon Dr John Samuel Yu, Australian of the Year (1996) and Chief Executive of the Children's Hospital, at the ceremony held at 2.00pm on 1 May 1997.

Dr John Yu

Dr John Yu, photo, Tracey Schramm, 'The University of Sydney News', 8 May 1997.


Presented by the Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Gavin Brown


I have the honour to present John Samuel Yu, for admission to the degree of Doctor of Medicine, honoris causa.

John Yu graduated with honours from the University of Sydney in 1959. After residency at the Royal North Shore Hospital he went to the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children for training in paediatrics. This was the beginning of a life-long relationship with the Hospital, broken only by research fellowships at Hammersmith Hospital in London and the University of Sydney.

After gaining his specialist paediatric qualifications Dr Yu worked in the Institute of Child Health at The Children's Hospital until his appointment, in 1972, as the Hospital's first full-time staff physician. Along with this position came the role of Administrative Head of the Hospital's Department of Medicine. It was here that Dr Yu's administrative skills became obvious. Within four years he was appointed Deputy General Medical Superintendent and two years later, in 1978, he was appointed General Superintendent and Chief Executive, a position he has held ever since.

More than anyone else he has been the person who has influenced the direction taken by The Children's Hospital and has encouraged the development of its sub-specialties and research activities to become a world class children's hospital.

The Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children has developed beyond being a world leader in technical and diagnostic skills. The opportunity to move the Hospital to a new site at Westmead was the chance to build, not only a technically superb hospital, but to create one which cared for the emotional as well as the physical needs of parents and their sick children. The planning of the New Children's Hospital was very much influenced by Dr Yu's concern to develop a hospital with a total healing environment combining state of the art technology with patient-friendly architecture, high quality art and restful gardens.

Dr Yu has made important contributions in many other areas, serving on the Council of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, the Executive of the Australian College of Paediatrics, the Executive of the University's Postgraduate Committee in Medicine and having held the Presidency of the Australian Association of Paediatric Teaching Centres. His interests extend widely beyond medicine. In recognition of his expertise in the decorative arts he has been made an Honorary Associate of the Powerhouse Museum and a Trustee of the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences.

Throughout his career he has maintained his clinical and research expertise in metabolic disorders of children with over 50 scientific publications in this area in addition to his publications in the decorative arts.

In all his professional activities Dr Yu has had one overriding concern: to be an advocate for children and to ensure that all children regardless of their race, beliefs or financial status, receive the type of medical care that meets their physical, emotional and family needs.

In recognition of his outstanding service to children and the Australian community, Dr Yu was made the 1996 Australian of the Year.

Chancellor, I have great pleasure in presenting John Samuel Yu for admission to the degree of Doctor of Medicine, honoris causa.