Chancellor pays tribute to long-serving Esquire Bedell

Published 04 April 2011

dickfranklinAt the beginning of a University of New England graduation ceremony last Saturday, the Chancellor, Dr Richard Torbay, paid tribute to Emeritus Professor Dick Franklin on the occasion of Professor Franklin’s 75th performance of the role of Esquire Bedell at the head of Graduation’s academic procession.

Dr Torbay said that Professor Franklin had retired from UNE’s Department of Philosophy in 1985 and had “kept an enduring association with the University, including his involvement with the Animal Ethics Committee, the Senior Advisory Council of Mary White College and the University of the Third Age here in town, and as Esquire Bedell since 1996”.

After explaining the medieval origin of the Esquire Bedell role, he continued: “A modern university has its traditions, and they are valuable to us in maintaining standards and in giving due weight and significance to the achievement of you as graduates.”

He said that Professor Franklin had begun work in UNE’s Department of Philosophy in 1968 and had become a leader in the Department, where he had “nurtured generations of students, giving them the gift of reflection and helping them make the connection between abstract matters and the way in which we live our lives”.

The photograph displayed above, taken last Saturday, shows Professor Franklin in his role as Esquire Bedell.

Dr Torbay welcomed special guests to the ceremony, including Mr Tony Perry, who accepted a testamur on behalf of Wendy Anne Marsden, who died in a car accident in February this year after successfully completing the requirements for a Bachelor of Social Science degree from UNE. “I would like to convey my appreciation that you are here today on Wendy’s behalf, and express my condolences to her family and friends,” Dr Torbay said.

There was prolonged applause from the audience of more than 1,000 people when Mr Perry accepted Ms Marsden’s award.

Mr Perry, who attended the ceremony with another of Wendy Marsden’s close friends, Elizabeth Dunnin, said: “Wendy was an extraordinary woman who, in the closing days of her life – despite poor health and often in much pain – went out of her way to help people whose lives had been devastated by a cyclone.”

“Wendy was killed on her way home from North Queensland in the aftermath of Cyclone Yasi,” he explained. “She can’t claim her degree in person, but her spirit is here with her friends.”

Saturday’s ceremony was the last of UNE’s four Autumn Graduation ceremonies for 2011.