VALE REYN KEATS 15 February 1918 – 1 April 2014
The University community remembers Reynold (Reyn) Gilbert Keats, our first Chair of the Department of Mathematics, and the founding Dean when the Faculty of Mathematics was established in 1971.
Professor Keats led a remarkable and varied career before joining UON. As a young man, he started his working life in banking before World War II intervened and he was enlisted in the 2/48th Infantry Battalion. Beginning as a private, Professor Keats fought in the Siege of Tobruk and in Syria, and was also part of the Battalion that confronted Japanese forces in New Guinea. In 1945, he left the army as an officer to commence a Bachelor of Science at the University of Adelaide.
As a young graduate, Professor Keats took up the position of research scientist with the Australian Government's Long Range Weapons Establishment, a role that took him and his new bride, Joy, to England in 1948 to live in Farnborough while he worked at the Royal Aircraft Establishment.
Returning from England in 1951, Professor Keats worked in the Aeronautics Research Establishment for two years before once again working with the Weapons Research Establishment. While there, he was among the first to learn to use an analogue computer that occupied most of a large building.
Following a long held dream to join academia, Professor Keats accepted an appointment as senior lecturer in mathematics at the University of Adelaide in 1961. While lecturing, he completed his PhD, which was awarded in 1966.
In 1968, Professor Keats moved his family to Newcastle to take up the position of Chair in Mathematics. He served as Head of the Department of Mathematics until 1976 and also as the Dean of the Faculty of Mathematics from 1971 until 1976, and again from 1980 until 1982. Professor Keats' research was in the area of signal detection particularly in the detection of underwater signals using arrays of hydrophones, and he received almost continuous Australian Government funding for the 14 years he was with the University.
Professor Keats is warmly remembered as the 'Founding Father of Mathematics' at the University of Newcastle – a great academic, researcher and leader who was deeply committed to building the University's reputation and performance in his field.