Vale Mrs Valerie Newton-John

Tuesday, 12 December 2017


The University of Newcastle is saddened by the passing of Valerie Newton-John, a distinguished alumna and long-time friend of the University as well as a significant contributor to the establishment and direction of the University of Newcastle.

Val Newton-John

1934 – 2017

Valerie’s connection to the University was remarkable and sustained over many decades, not only as a prominent graduate and committed champion of the University but also as one of the earliest members of its academic ‘family’.

As a student, Valerie was a member of the group whose members fought for an independent Newcastle University in the 1950s and early 1960s. Throughout her studies in Arts and then Psychology, she was an active member of the University community, having initially taken a role as the first manager of the University book shop in 1961. As an accomplished pianist, Valerie regularly played for the University choir and also prior to shows and during the intervals at the legendary Newcastle Revues in the 1960s.

On 28 June 1963, Valerie married professor of German literature, Professor Brin Newton-John, the University’s inaugural Deputy Vice-Chancellor under the foundation Vice-Chancellor Professor James Auchmuty. Together, the Newton-Johns played a remarkable role in shaping the early years of the newly formed University of Newcastle and the academic and cultural life of the Newcastle community.

Following her graduation from the University of Newcastle with a Bachelor of Arts and a Diploma in Applied Psychology, Valerie  forged a distinguished career as a clinical psychologist, working first in Newcastle and then in Sydney. However, she maintained a lifelong connection with UON and a role as a champion for students and the University.

It was particularly special that, in 2010, Valerie was able to return to Newcastle to present the University’s esteemed Newton-John Award, named after her late former husband, recognising innovation and creativity that has improved cultural life.

Valerie died on 26 November 2017, aged 83. The University of Newcastle community sends our sincere best wishes and thoughts to Valerie’s family and friends at this sad time.


Contact Office of Alumni and Philanthropy
Phone 02 4921 8612
Email jemma.bowman@newcastle.edu.au