The University of Newcastle, Australia

Thank you and farewell

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Around 400 staff and friends of the University joined outgoing Vice-Chancellor, Professor Caroline McMillen in the Great Hall on Friday 21 September to say thank you and farewell at the end of her seven years leading the institution.

Professor Caroline McMillen with her portrait

Before entering the Great Hall, guests had the opportunity to see the latest addition to the portrait wall - a stunning work by Sydney based artist Sally Ryan.  The piece captures Caroline perfectly and many significant details – including Caroline’s father’s scarf on her lap.

The formalities of the event were an opportunity for reflection. The Chancellor, Paul Jeans spoke of Caroline’s commitment to equity and excellence. He was followed by the Lord Mayor, Nuatali Nelmes who spoke warmly of Caroline’s impact on Newcastle and their shared successes, including securing Newcastle as a United Nations city in 2015.

A number of staff shared their own reflections on Caroline in a short video before Caroline took to the stage to reflect for one last time as Vice-Chancellor on the many milestones that marked her tenure.

The Chancellor presented Caroline with a gift from the University – a piece by artist and UON PhD candidate, Nicole Chaffey.

Caroline was then joined on stage by her husband Barry, for one more video before a birthday cake was brought out. Dr Bernie Curran AM led a round of Happy Birthday, ahead of Caroline’s birthday on the weekend.

The rest of the evening was a time for relaxed socialising (and a bit of dress-up on the side).

Thank you and farewell Caroline. You will leave lasting legacies at UON. In the words of Professor John Aitken, we wish you well in the next stage of “your very brilliant career”.

Portrait caption

The University of Newcastle’s first female Vice-Chancellor, Professor Caroline McMillen brought a wealth of experience and dedication to the role, overseeing major developments and successes for the university across seven years. She has been painted in an informal setting in NeW Space, which was designed and built during her tenure, ensuring the future of the University in the city’s main precinct. The building connects our staff and students to the broader city community and so the Newcastle Town Hall and the Hill can be seen through the windows in the background.

Professor McMillen has long been an advocate for equity in higher education and her passion is for relevant and accessible education for all. In the painting, alongside her academic professorial robes is a smaller striped scarf from Queens University Belfast, gifted to her by her father, who was the first in their family to go to university.


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