Vale Beryl Nashar (1923 - 2012)
It is with great sadness that the University of Newcastle acknowledges the passing of Emeritus Professor Beryl Nashar - our first female professor and the founding head of Geology.
Professor Nashar, a specialist in geology and petrology, will be remembered as a trailblazer in the higher education sector. She was the first Australian to be awarded a PhD in geology from an Australian university; one of the first women in the country to be appointed a professor; and she was the first female dean of science in an Australian university. She was also the first woman in Australia to win a Rotary Foundation Fellowship, which she took in Cambridge.
Professor Nashar's career in higher education began in Tasmania, where she completed her PhD working on Cambrian volcanic rocks. In 1955 she joined the (then) Newcastle University College as only the second member of the geology staff, researching the geology of the Stanhope district in the Hunter Valley. In 1965, Professor Nashar became the University's Foundation Professor of Geology and in 1969, Dean of the Faculty of Science.
Throughout her career, she made major contributions to the public sector through committees and boards. She served on the board of directors for the Royal Newcastle Hospital for more than 16 years and then for the Greater Newcastle Building Society for five years. She also spent time on the advisory panel for the Hunter Valley Research Foundation. A major supporter of promoting women in business, Professor Nashar was President of the Newcastle club of the Federation of Business and Professional Women, and went on to lead the Australian and international federations.
Professor Nashar was widely recognised for her contributions to education and international relations, serving on the Secondary Schools Board in the 1970s and the academic committee of the Higher Education Committee in the 1980s. She was also instrumental in reviewing the then NSW Institute of Technology in the 1980s and in scoping the potential for a new university, later to become the University of Western Sydney.
The public recognition for Professor Nashar's work is testament to the esteem in which she was held as a scientist and businesswoman. In 1972, she was appointed OBE - The Order of the British Empire - Officer (Civil); in 1975 the UN Association in Sydney named her Woman of the Year; in 1994 she received a Distinguished Service Medal from the Australian Red Cross; in 1994 she was honoured with the Jean Arnot Award for Outstanding Commitment to Women from the Australian Federation of Business and Professional Women; and in 2002 she was awarded an Officer of the Order of Australia.
Professor Nashar retired from the University in 1980. In recognition of her outstanding contributions to science and business, the University awarded Professor Nashar an honorary Doctor of Science degree in 1988.
Professor Beryl Nashar's funeral service and cremation will be held on Thursday, 10 May at 10:30am at Lake Macquarie Memorial Park Cemetery and Crematorium.