Alumni honoured for achievements in Indonesia

Published 06 March 2009

dattaTwo Indonesian graduates of the University of New England, Emeritus Professor I Made Nitis and Professor Frans Umbu Datta (pictured here), have been honoured in Jakarta for their outstanding contributions to Indonesia’s development. The Australian Alumni Awards program, an initiative of Australian Education International at the Australian Embassy in Indonesia, celebrates the talents and achievements of Indonesians who have studied in Australia.

Professor Nitis, from Udayana University in Bali, was recognised for his outstanding contribution to the advancement of agriculture in Bali and eastern Indonesia. He was one of three recipients of Distinguished Alumni Awards – recognising a lifetime of achievement – presented by the Australian Ambassador to Indonesia, Mr Bill Farmer AO, during a reception at the embassy in Jakarta last month.

Professor Nitis, who graduated from UNE with Bachelor of Rural Science (1961), Master of Rural Science (1964), and PhD (1974) degrees, was the first Indonesian to obtain Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD degrees from the same Australian university.

He was Project Leader in the research and development of the “Three Strata Forage System” at Udayana University. The application of this system, which incorporates an integrated approach to plants, animals, and the environment, has resulted in increased production of food crops, tree crops and livestock by small landholders in Bali and eastern Indonesia, and is now applied by nine Faculties of Animal Husbandry througout eastern Indonesia and by the Directorate General of Livestock Services under the Indonesian Ministry of Agriculture.

A Fellow of the Economic Development Institute of the World Bank, Professor Nitis has held the position of Scientific Adviser to the International Foundation for Science, based in Sweden, since 1993. His numerous awards include the Calpatro Award from the President of the Republic of Indonesia (2003), the Widya Pataka Award from the Governor of Bali Province (2006), the Sewaka Wiwaya Roka Award from the Indonesian Department of Education and Culture (2007), and the Udayana University Chancellor’s Award (2007).

Professor Frans Umbu Datta, who gained his PhD from UNE in 1998, was among the 38 finalists for the 2009 Australian Alumni Awards who were honoured late last month at a gala dinner, hosted by Mr Farmer, at Jakarta’s Hotel Indonesia Kempinski.

As Rector of Nusa Cendana University (UNDANA), Professor Datta worked with Charles Darwin University to establish a joint program for UNDANA’s Master of Tropical Rural Development degree, drawing students from Australia, Indonesia and East Timor. More recently, collaborating with the School of Medicine at Flinders University, Adelaide, he was instrumental in establishing the Faculty of Medicine at UNDANA.

Professor Datta, who currently acts as Timor program representative for the Australian Development Scholarships program, was nominated in the “Excellence in Education” category.