UNE alumni set excellent example for newest graduates

Published 24 October 2013

graduation-tnTwo of the University of New England’s most distinguished Alumni, Major General Mick Slater and Professor Neil Trudinger, will share some of their life lessons and thoughts on learning when they address UNE’s newest graduates at some of UNE’s largest ever Spring Graduations, this Friday and Saturday.

UNE Vice Chancellor Professor Jim Barber says these 600 graduands will now take their place of honour alongside almost 90,000 UNE Alumni, sharing that well-earned reputation around the world as knowledgeable, skilled and highly employable professionals and leaders in their chosen fields.

“Our honoured guests are Major General Mick Slater and Professor Neil Trudinger, both former graduates of UNE who have returned to share the celebration of graduation.”

“Professor Trudinger completed his BSc Honours degree in Mathematics at UNE in 1962 and is now a veritable rockstar of the Mathematical world, an international expert on nonlinear partial differential equations.”

“He was elected to the Australian Academy of Science in 1978 at age 35 and to the Royal Society of London in 1997. Professor Trudinger was the first person ever to receive the Australian Mathematical Society Medal in 1981 and the Hannan Medal of the Australian Academy of Science in 1996 along with the Steele Prize of the American Mathematical Society in 2008,” Professor Barber said.

“Major General Mick Slater completed his Masters of Business Administration through the University of New England during his early years as an officer in the Australian Defence Forces and has certainly taken a leading role in military administration and on active service in domestic and international emergencies.

“As Commander the 2nd Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment, in East Timor when it spearheaded Operation WARDEN during the initial days of INTERFET, and more recently, as Commander the 3rd Brigade, executing Operation ASTUTE to stabilise and restore security in strife torn Timor Leste.”

“Major General Slater was appointed Chair of the Queensland Reconstruction Authority in the wake of the 2011 floods and cyclone Yasi and received an officer of the Order of Australia for his services during that period.”

Professor Trudinger will present 220 new UNE graduates from the Arts and Sciences Disciplines on Friday and share his insights on excellence in research and all of life’s endeavours.

Major General Slater will present 380 new UNE graduates in the Professions with their testamurs and share his own experience and advice on lifelong contribution and community service.

Brief biographies for guests of honour

Professor Neil S Trudinger
Professor Neil Trudinger was born in Ballarat in 1942 completing his early education in Japan and at Laverton and then Richmond High School in New South Wales.

He completed a BSc Honours degree in mathematics at UNE in 1962. He completed his PhD at Stanford University in 1966 under the supervision of David Gilbarg, where his thesis was concerned with the theory of nonlinear partial differential equations.
During his career Professor Trudinger has received many honours and awards including election to the Australian Academy of Science in 1978 at age 35 and to the Royal Society of London in 1997. His prizes include the first award of the Australian Mathematical Society Medal in 1981, the Hannan Medal of the Australian Academy of Science in 1996 and the Steele Prize of the American Mathematical Society in 2008.

He has also been heavily involved in professional service including being President of the Australian Mathematical Society from 1986 to 1988, Chief Judge in the Singapore National Science Talent Search in 2002 and a member of the Abel Prize Committee from 2008 to 2010. The Abel Prize which is funded by the Norwegian government is the closest analogue in mathematics of the Nobel Prize.

Professor Trudinger is most famous for his book on elliptic equations written, jointly with David Gilbarg, which grew out his lectures at Stanford in 1971. This book was first published in 1977 and has gone though various editions, also being translated into Chinese and Russian. It has been the most cited work on the database of the American Mathematical Society, MathSciNet,  since its inception in 2000.

Major General Mick D Slater, AO, DSC, CSC
Mick Slater was born in Brisbane in 1958 and after completing his secondary education at St Joseph’s College Gregory Terrace, worked and studied surveying through Queensland University of Technology then joined the Australian Army.

Following  officer training at the Officer Cadet School Portsea, Major General Slater undertook a variety of regimental and instructional postings before commanding a rifle company in the 2nd/4th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment. Appointed Operations Officer of that unit in 1992, he then served as Brigade Major of 9th and then 3rd Brigadeand was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in January 1997, as the Army’s Director of Preparedness and Mobilisation.

In 1998, Major General Slater deployed to Kuwait on Operation Pollard where he served as a liaison officer and operations staff officer in the United States 3rd Army Headquarters.  On return to Australia he assumed command of the 2nd Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment, and subsequently deployed the battalion to East Timor when it spearheaded Operation WARDEN.

In 2008, Major General Slater assumed command of the 1st Division based in Brisbane.  Subsequently, he was appointed to be the Chair of the Queensland Reconstruction Authority. For his services rendered to the state of Queensland in the wake of the 2011 floods and cyclone Yasi, Major General Slater was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia.