Chancellor welcomes new Vice-Chancellor to UNE Graduation

Published 09 April 2010

byrnebarberThe Chancellor of the University of New England, Dr Richard Torbay, today welcomed Professor Jim Barber to the first UNE graduation ceremony Professor Barber has attended as the University’s Vice-Chancellor.

Dr Torbay was speaking, on behalf of the University and wider communities, to an audience of more than 230 graduands and about 1,000 others – family and friends of the graduands and staff members of UNE.

Today’s ceremony, the first of UNE’s four Autumn Graduation ceremonies for 2010, was for people graduating from award programs within the School of Arts, the School of Humanities, and the School of Behavioural, Cognitive and Social Sciences.

Professor Barber, who took up the position of UNE Vice-Chancellor in February this year, introduced the UNE research psychologist Emeritus Professor Brian Byrne as the Occasional Address speaker, outlining Professor Byrne’s long and distinguished career at UNE and his internationally-acclaimed research on the factors affecting children’s reading ability.

In his address, Professor Byrne took UNE’s pioneering work in distance education as an example of innovative thinking that – while going against generally-held assumptions at the time (in this case, that a “proper” university education was one obtained by spending a number of years on a university campus) – had helped to shape the world of the future.

He urged the graduands to develop and maintain the kind of inquiring mind that can question such generally-held assumptions, to adopt sound principles, and to maximise their knowledge of any subject on which they would have to speak with authority.

“In the modern world, citizens can’t afford to ignore looming issues,” Professor Byrne said. Issues such as climate change, he continued, “call out for fresh ways of thinking”.

“That’s where you all come in,” he told the graduands.

In thanking Professor Byrne for his inspiring address, Dr Torbay also thanked him for his “outstanding contribution to this university”.

The guest speaker at tomorrow’s ceremony, for people graduating from programs within the School of Law and the School of Business, Economics and Public Policy, will be the Hon. Greg James QC, President of the NSW Mental Health Review Tribunal.

On Friday 16 April the Rt Rev. Dr Peter Brain, Anglican Bishop of Armidale, will address graduands during the ceremony for the School of Education, and on Saturday 17 April Emeritus Professor Wayne Hindmarsh will address those graduating from programs in the School of Environmental and Rural Science, the School of Science and Technology, and the School of Health. Dr Hindmarsh is Professor and Dean Emeritus of the Faculty of Pharmacy at the University of Toronto in Canada.

More than 2,200 people are graduating from UNE this Autumn, with almost 1,000 of those registered to attend one or other of the four ceremonies on the lawns of “Booloominbah”.

THE PHOTOGRAPH displayed here shows Professor Brian Byrne (left) and Professor Jim Barber.