The University of Newcastle, Australia

Week 2 Callaghan graduation ceremonies

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Hundreds of students will cross the Great Hall stage this week during week two of the Callaghan April/May graduation ceremonies.


An outstanding enabling program student who is now undertaking a medicine degree with a dream of becoming a rural GP will be among hundreds of students celebrating their academic achievements this week.

In 2014, the University of Newcastle's enabling program Open Foundation celebrates 40 years of providing people a pathway to university study. Nikki Payne is one Open Foundation student whose life path has been changed by the program and the opportunities it provides. Read her story.

More than 2800 students are expected to graduate across 15 ceremonies at the University's Callaghan campus by the end of this series of ceremonies. Students from the Faculty of Education and Arts and Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment graduated during six ceremonies last week.

This week the Great Hall will host ceremonies for the Faculty of Science and Information Technology and English Language and Foundation Studies Centre on Wednesday 30 April; the Faculty of Health and Medicine on Thursday 1 May and Friday 2 May; and the Faculty of Business and Law on Friday 2 May.

The University will present an honorary degree to occasional speaker, the Honourable Rodney (Rod) Harrison, Deputy President and Hunter Regional member of the Industrial Relations Commission of New South Wales. Mr Harrison, who is responsible for matters in industries in the area north and west of Gosford to the Queensland border, will be awarded a Doctor of Business Honoris causa at the 2pm Faculty of Business and Law ceremony on Friday 2 May.


Wednesday 30 April

10am: Faculty of Science and Information Technology

Occasional Speaker: Professor Ian Chubb.  Professor Ian Chubb commenced in the role of Chief Scientist for Australia on 23 May 2011.

Prior to that, Professor Chubb was Vice-Chancellor of the Australian National University from January 2001 to March 2011, Vice-Chancellor of Flinders University of South Australia for six years and the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Monash University for two years.

In Professor Chubb's early career he was as a JF & C Heymans Research Fellow at the University of Ghent, Belgium. This was followed by six years in the 1970s at Oxford University where he was a Wellcome Foundation Scholar, a Junior Research Fellow of St John's College, and a Royal Society Research Fellow. From 1978 to 1985 he was an academic member of the School of Medicine of Flinders University and from January 1986 to September 1990, Professor Chubb was the Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Wollongong and an Honorary Professor of Biology.

From January 2000 to December 2001 Professor Chubb was a member of the Prime Minister's Science, Engineering and Innovation Council. He serves, or has served, on numerous other Boards and Committees related to his university or Commonwealth responsibilities in universities and in the public and private sectors.

In 1999 Professor Chubb was made an Officer of the Order of Australia for "service to the development of higher education policy and its implementation at state, national and international levels, as an administrator in the tertiary educaion sector, and to research particularly in the field of neuroscience".

In 2006 he was made a Companion in the Order for "service to higher education, including research and development policy in the pursuit of advancing the national interest socially, economically, culturally and environmentally, and to the facilitation of a knowledge-based global economy". 

2pm: Faculty of Science and Information Technology

Occasional Speaker: Mr Chad Watson is the editor of the Newcastle Herald and holds a Bachelor of Arts (Communication Studies) degree from the University of Newcastle.

Mr Watson was among the first University of Newcastle Communication students to gain employment with Fairfax Media. Starting a cadetship with the Newcastle Herald in 1989, he spent his formative years covering surfing, football and music. Mr Watson later had stints as a police reporter, magazine writer, daily columnist and newspapers-in-education coordinator before moving into editing roles. He also worked as a part-time lecturer and presenter at The University of Newcastle, Hunter TAFE and WEA.

In 2007, he was appointed chief of staff of The Sun-Herald in Sydney, where he later served as news editor and acting editor. He also enjoyed a stint as night editor of The Sydney Morning Herald before returning "home" to become deputy editor and now editor of the Newcastle Herald. Mr Watson has collected numerous journalism awards, including Northern NSW ''Prodis'' for sub-editing, a National Youth Media Award for feature writing, and a team Walkley Award for coverage of community and regional affairs.

Under his editorship, the Newcastle Herald has won Pacific Area Newspaper Publishers' Association Awards for best newspaper, website and mobile app.

Mr Watson is a member of The University of Newcastle's Alumni advisory committee while also serving on the university's community engagement committee and external advisory board for the School of Design, Communication and IT. 

6pm: English Language and Foundation Studies Centre: Recognition of Attainment Ceremony

Occasional Speaker: Although a proficient academic student, Ms Jane Read was more attracted to a life within the arts, specifically Ballet. Subsequently, she left high school after completing the School Certificate, to spend the next 23 years pursuing a career as a professional ballerina, achieving the ultimate rank of Senior Artist/Principal Ballerina with the Australian Ballet Company.

Upon retirement, Ms Read followed her interest in science. She completed the University of Newcastle's Intensive Open Foundation Course, which allowed her to qualify and be accepted into the University's Bachelor of Biomedical Science degree. Upon completing this degree with a High Distinction average, Ms Read then achieved First Class Honours in Biomedical Sciences and was awarded the Faculty of Health medal.

After graduation, she applied her knowledge here at the University of Newcastle, as a HMRI research assistant within the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence and later within the Priority Research Centre in Reproductive Sciences.

In Ms Read's current employment, she has returned to microbiology and from 2013 has been the senior scientist at Mould Lab. Along with the many responsibilities of laboratory management, the majority of her work involves the analyses and identification of airborne and surface fungi, yeast and bacteria. 

Thursday 1 May

10am: Faculty of Health and Medicine

Occasional Speaker: Dr Sarah-Jane McEwan is the District Medical Officer at Port Hedland Regional Hospital in Western Australia. Dr McEwan is a director of the General Practice Education and Training (GPET) Board and the Regional Training Advisor for Western Australia GPET. She is a clinical teacher and mentor for students of the University of Western Australia Rural Clinical School, and has been a member of the Australian Indigenous Doctors Association since 2000.

Dr McEwan is committed to equitable, culturally safe and timely access to primary health care in all rural and remote areas of Australia. In 2004 Dr McEwan was awarded the Bachelor of Medicine degree from The University of Newcastle.

She has also completed a Diploma of Clinical Education from Flinders University, a Royal Australian College Advanced Diploma of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, and a Diploma in Child Health.  Dr McEwan is a Fellow of the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine, Advanced Rural General Practice Fellowship, and Fellowship of Royal Australian College General Practioners.

Dr McEwan appeared on the ABC New Inventors Program as a guest judge in 2011, participated in the Rural Health Education Foundation DVD series that was broadcast on the ABC and SBS networks, and is involved in the Vibe Alive community events in Port Hedland, engaging with local Indigenous school students to encourage participation in health careers. 

2pm: Faculty of Health and Medicine

Occasional Speaker:  Mr Marcus Dripps is a physiotherapist who is based in Geelong, Victoria. He is the CEO of Corio Bay Health Group, the largest multidisciplinary sports medicine group in regional Victoria. He continues to be an active clinician, and has a clinical interest in occupational health and adolescent sporting injuries. He has business interests in health information technology and clinical education.

He is a clinical advisor to the Transport Accident Commission and Worksafe Victoria, and Chairs the Victorian Health Minister's Advisory Council on Allied Health.

Mr Dripps has been a member of the Board of Directors at Barwon Health, the public health service in the Geelong region, since 2008. He chairs their Primary Care and Population Health group.

He has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Australian Physiotherapy Association since 2007, and has been appointed National President for 2013-2014. The Association provides members with extensive professional development opportunities, world class research resources, vital advocacy and marketing, and business tools and HR support.

6pm: Faculty of Health and Medicine

Occasional Speaker:  Professor Denise Fassett is the Dean of the Faculty of Health at the University of Tasmania. With a strong background in health regulation, academic administration and health service governance, Professor Fassett is a Registered Nurse with a PhD from the University of Technology Sydney, a Master of Nursing, Graduate Diploma in Aged Care Nursing and a Bachelor of Health Science from the University of Tasmania.

With a clinical background in Acute and Aged Care nursing practice Professor Fassett embarked upon an academic career with the University of Tasmania in 1991. In 2006 she was appointed Head of Nursing and Midwifery and she was also appointed Chair of the Nursing Board of Tasmania. She was appointed to the inaugural Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia in 2009 and still serves on this Board. 

In 2012 Professor Fassett was appointed to the inaugural Governing Council for the Northern Tasmanian Health Organisation. She is a Board Member of the Menzies Medical Research Institute and the Chair of the Wicking Dementia Research & Education Centre Advisory Committee.

Highly regarded as an entrepreneurial and innovative leader, Professor Fassett is also known for her commitment to fostering and developing strong and sustainable partnerships between higher education and health service providers. 

Friday 2 May

10am: Faculty of Health and Medicine

Occasional Speaker:  Professor Peter Schofield is Executive Director and CEO of Neuroscience Research Australia, one of Australia's leading independent centres for neuroscience research. He is also a Professor of Medicine of the University of New South Wales.

Peter studied genetics in the Faculty of Agriculture at the University of Sydney graduating in 1982 with First Class Honours and the University Medal. He obtained his PhD in genetics from the Australian National University in 1985 and was awarded a Doctor of Science from the University of New South Wales in 1998 for his work on neurotransmitter receptors.

He has worked in the biotechnology industry and in academic medical research institutes in the US (Genentech), Germany (Centre for Molecular Biology, University of Heidelberg) and Australia (Pacific Biotechnology). He joined the Garvan Institute in 1991, where he held several National Health and Medical Research Council Research Fellowships and was appointed Director of the Neurobiology Program. In 2004, he commenced his current role at NeuRA.

His research interests focus on understanding how signalling in the brain occurs and identifying genes that lead to neurodegenerative and psychiatric disorders such as Alzheimer's disease and bipolar disorder. He has published over 270 papers.  His research has been recognised by awards including the A W Campbell Award by the Australian Neuroscience Society, the Boehringer Mannheim Medal by the Australian Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and the Gottschalk Medal by the Australian Academy of Science. 

2pm: Faculty of Business and Law

Occasional Speaker:  The Honourable Rodney (Rod) Harrison is the Deputy President and Hunter Regional member of the Industrial Relations Commission of New South Wales, and is responsible for matters in industries in the area north and west of Gosford to the Queensland border. These industries include transport, education, local government, hospitality, retail, building and construction, public service, ports, coal handling, manufacturing, agricultural, meat and livestock, and statewide responsibility for energy, electricity generation and distribution.

The Honourable Mr Deputy President was awarded a Bachelor of Commerce degree from The University of Newcastle in 1972 and is accredited as an experienced and qualified mediator under the Australian National Mediator Standards.

In 1986 The Honourable Mr Deputy President was the Australian Industry Advisor on behalf of Commodity Importers and Exporters to the United Nations Trade and Development Committee    e on Shipping in Geneva. He visited Japan, the Unite States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France, South Africa, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan to examine coal mining, coal transport, port facilities, material handling equipment manufacture and coal usage in power stations, chemical plants and general industry.

He is the current Chair of the Industry Advisory Committee to the School of Business, University of Newcastle, in Employee Relations and Human Resource Management; past president and life member of the Cooks Hill Life Saving Club; Foundation Director of the Rotary Club of Newcastle; and Chair, NSW Rugby League Advisory Committee to the Newcastle Knights 1992 – 1996.

The University will present an honorary degree to the Honourable Rod Harrison at the 2pm Faculty of Business and Law ceremony on Friday 2 May. 

6pm: Faculty of Business and Law

Occasional Speaker:  Senator Kim Carr caught the taste for changing things early in life. As a young man he studied history and political theory at the University of Melbourne, becoming the first in his family to receive a university education. He graduated from Melbourne with a Diploma of Education in 1978 and Master of Arts in 1984.

After a decade in teaching he moved to the political arena for Labor, first as a policy analyst to the Victorian Government and later as a Senator in the Australian Parliament.

In his first speech to the Senate in 1993, Senator Carr set out a vision for 'a society built on shared effort, shared rewards and a fair go for all'. The key was education – education to overcome the barriers of class, postcode and language, and unite Australians in a richer and fuller national life.

In the twenty-one years that followed, he pursued that ideal through service on numerous committees and in shadow cabinet posts for Labor. With the election of the Labor Government in 2007 he was appointed Australia's first Minister for Innovation, uniting science, research, industry, and later higher education, in one portfolio.

He remains a passionate advocate for the new Australia as Labor's Shadow Minister in these critical fields. Universities, he argues, are at the cutting-edge of the richer and fairer nation we are striving to be. They give us our best reason to 'dream large for Australia'.

  • Carmen Swadling, Media and Public Relations
  • Phone: +61 2 4985 4276 or 0428 038 477.

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