The University of Newcastle, Australia

Title of Emeritus Professor awarded to retiring scholar Professor Mel Gray

Friday, 16 November 2018

After 38 years in academia, internationally renowned Professor of social work, Mel Gray is retiring.

Prof Mel Gray

She has been awarded the title of Emeritus Professor in recognition of her impressive record of service, research leadership and strong contribution to the performance and international reputation of the University of Newcastle.

Head of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Professor Catharine Coleborne said Mel Gray is known as a giant in the field of social work for her sustained high-quality research output and regular publications on social work theory and methods, values and ethics, evidence-based practice, social development, social policy, and social work education and practice.

“Professor Gray has achieved an impressive career total of 4 co-authored books, 13 edited books, 51 book chapters, 144 refereed journal articles plus book reviews, reports and encyclopedia articles. Her books and book chapters have been published by leading international academic presses, including Ashgate, OUP, Palgrave, Routledge, Sage, and Springer,” she said.

“This publication intensity and excellence led directly to the University’s Social

Work discipline being recognised for research that was ‘well above world standard’ with the award of a 5 rating in the ERA 2012 assessment – the only university to achieve a 5 ranking for FoR 1607 in that assessment round,” Professor Coleborne said.

Professor Gray came to academia having already spent 15 years practicing social work in the complex, morally challenging and politically charged society of South Africa. The profound questions this experience raised led to her PhD, at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, in Durban, South Africa, on the relationship between social work, ethics and politics and have informed her research ever since, giving her a reputation internationally for interrogating basic assumptions and stimulating vigorous debate. She spent 19 years at the University of KwaZulu Natal where she became Professor and Head of Social Work in 1994, before coming to Newcastle in 1999.

Professor Coleborne said Gray has exemplified the core values of the University for research excellence, wide engagement and collaboration, and the University Council has conferred the title of Professor Emeritus as a most fitting recognition of Professor Gray’s outstanding academic achievements and record of service.  One example of where this embodiment of core values can be clearly seen is in her outstanding record of HDR completions including a strong cohort of international scholars.

“Many of her former students continue to collaborate and co-publish with Professor Gray as they develop their own careers. She is regarded as someone who is generous with her time and always encourages others to produce their best work and serves as a model of research mentorship to her students and peers,” Professor Coleborne commented.

She has been an outstanding ambassador for the University of Newcastle and has made significant contributions to service and leadership over time.

This year, Mel Gray was recognised with the prestigious International Association of Schools of Social Work’s (IASSW) Eileen Younghusband Lecture Award 2018 for her powerful contribution to international social work education. The award is presented biannually to ‘a distinguished social work educator, who has an international reputation and recognition’.

Professor Gray’s international profile in the field is exemplified by collaborations with leading experts around the world that have led to numerous publications - testament to her outstanding academic profile, extensive networks, and commitment to the collaborative principle; colleagues hail from Canada, the USA, the UK, Europe and the Nordic countries, and southern Africa.

Professor Gray will continue as an active and valued contributor to the University of Newcastle – especially via her publications in top tier journal outlets and with leading academic presses. She will continue to supervise PhD candidates and will be available to be a co-supervisor with Faculty colleagues for the training of future scholars and as a mentor for early career researchers. In addition, Professor Gray will continue to represent the University internationally as an invited speaker at social work conferences; and as a peer reviewer and assessor for international journals and funding agencies.


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