Many UNE connections in Honours List

Published 30 January 2009

oam.jpgMore than a dozen former UNE students and academic staff members have been named in this year’s Australia Day Honours List.

Among them are Mr Christopher Ross-Smith, Head of Drama (now Theatre Studies) at UNE from 1977 to 1996, and Dr Anthony Gregson, a Lecturer, Senior Lecturer and Associate Professor in Chemistry from 1974 to 1981.

One of the former students to be honoured is Major General Richard Wilson AM, who was made an Officer in the Military Division of the Order of Australia (AO) “for distinguished service to the Australian Army in the fields of force structure, personnel training, and operations, particularly as Commander Training Command – Army, and as the Commander of the 1st Division”.

Among Major General Wilson’s many academic qualifications is a Master of Letters degree (1983) from UNE. For his leading role in planning for the peace monitoring operations on Bougainville and the peace enforcement operations in East Timor he was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 2000. He served with the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor from July 2001 to March 2002 as Commander of the Peacekeeping Forces in Sector West, and was appointed Commander of the 1st Division in 2007.

Dr Gregson moved to UNE in 1974, and rose to the position of Associate Professor in the Department of Physical and Inorganic Chemistry. He was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) “for service to agricultural science, particularly in the areas of agri-biotechnology and grain growing, to national and international research and development organisations through a range of executive roles, and to education”.

Among his leading roles in national and international organisations, he is Chairman of Plant Health Australia, Chairman of the Cooperative Research Centre for Molecular Plant Breeding, and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Biodiversity International, Italy.

Dr Gregson is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering.

Mr Ross-Smith was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) “for service to the performing arts, and to the community of the Armidale region”. He was Deputy Director of the National Institute of Dramatic Art from 1974 to 1976 before moving to UNE as Head of Drama in 1977. He became an Honorary Fellow of the University in 1996.

He has played a leading role in the cultural life of the New England region, serving as a committee member and actor with the Armidale Playhouse since 1978. In 1985 he founded the Armidillos Theatre Company, of which he is currently the Artistic Director and Administrator. The company has been responsible for directing local productions and financing the appearance of visiting professional theatre companies – and Oz Opera – in Armidale.

Mr Ross-Smith was Secretary of the Australian Drama Studies Association from 1977 to 1982, and President from 1982 to 1984, becoming a Life Member of the Association in 1984.