Climate challenge: graduands urged to take ‘leading role’

Published 14 April 2008

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An international leader in the oil and gas industry, speaking during a graduation ceremony at the University of New England on Saturday, urged graduands to help Australia realise its potential leading role in the global response to climate change.

John Ellice-Flint said that, by becoming “an international crucible” for the development of renewable energy technologies, Australia could help to “sever the nexus between economic growth and carbon emissions”.

Mr Ellice-Flint, a member of the Council of the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association, and of the Energy Governors of the World Economic Forum, recently retired after seven years as Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of SANTOS Limited. He gave the Occasional Address at Saturday’s ceremony for people graduating from UNE in disciplines within the Sciences and Health.

Mr Ellice-Flint holds a Bachelor of Science (Geology) degree with Honours from UNE. In recognition of his outstanding and significant contributions to the oil and gas industry, and his active engagement with the community on many levels – from participating in gruelling fund-raising events to serving as Chairman of the South Australian Museum – he was presented during the ceremony with a UNE Distinguished Alumni Award.

“My time on this campus was the best time of my life,” he said, recalling some of the internationally renowned scientists who were his teachers, and how they fostered an atmosphere of camaraderie with their students that “allowed us to grow”.

Returning to the graduands assembled before him, he said that UNE had equipped them with all the tools necessary for them to help Australia assume a leading role in addressing the global challenge of climate change.

The ceremony was the last of four in UNE’s Autumn Graduation series for 2008. More than 250 graduands were able to attend Saturday’s ceremony to receive their testamurs from the Deputy Chancellor, Dr James Harris. Altogether, more than 2,300 people (including those unable to attend the ceremonies) have graduated from UNE this autumn.

In another highlight of Saturday’s ceremony, Dr Harris presented an honorary degree of Doctor of Science to one of UNE’s most distinguished scientists, Emeritus Professor Stuart Barker. In introducing Professor Barker, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Alan Pettigrew, said he was an “internationally recognised” and “extraordinarily productive” scientist with a career in animal genetics “now spanning more than five decades”.

“Professor Barker has the exceptional record of continuously having held grants from the Australian Research Council and its predecessor (the Australian Research Grants Committee) from the Committee’s inception in 1965 until his retirement in 1998,” Professor Pettigrew said. “He is still very active in his research and collaboration with national and international scientists and still travels extensively to undertake this collaboration.”

THE PHOTOGRAPH displayed here is of Rebecca Forbes, who graduated on Saturday as a Bachelor of Science with First Class Honours, and was presented with a University Medal. She also gave the Vote of Thanks address at the end of the ceremony. The photograph expands to include John Ellice-Flint, another holder of a BSc (Honours) degree from UNE, who gave the Occasional Address and received a UNE Distinguished Alumni Award.