UniSA honours South Australian leaders

Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer ACAs more than 1800 students graduate from the University of South Australia this week, three leaders will be acknowledged for their contribution to business and government across the State and the nation.

Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer AC, and engineer and manufacturing leader Michael Heard will be awarded Honorary Doctorates. Public Service leader and former UniSA Council member William (Bill) Cossey AM, will be named a Fellow of the University.

The honours highlight the important contribution made by all three to the South Australian community.

With a 23-year career in the Federal parliament, Alexander Downer continued a family tradition of public service through politics following his father and grandfather into the political arena.

UniSA Vice Chancellor Professor David Lloyd said people often underestimated the commitment involved in forging a long-term career in politics.

“The life of a politician is demanding, highly public and delivers a relentless workload,” Prof Lloyd said.

“But on top of a career as the Member for Mayo and Australia’s longest serving Minister of Foreign Affairs, upon retirement from Federal politics Alexander Downer has continued to serve as United nation’s Special Advisor on Cyprus and as a visiting Professor at Adelaide University.

“He has made a deep and enduring contribution as an economist, a diplomat, a minister, an academic and a business advisor.

“We are especially delighted to be the recipient university of his private papers as the host institution of the Alexander Downer Collection, an archive not only of his experiences in office but also of the life and political times of his father Sir Alick and grandfather  Sir John Downer - an important national and state resource for scholars of 20th century Australian politics and public life.”

Engineer and manufacturing industry specialist Michael Heard has been acknowledged for his outstanding contribution over 30 years to manufacturing and industry in South Australia.

Starting out in the research, development, design, manufacture and export of technology products for the automotive components sector, as Managing Director of Codan Limited, he oversaw the development of a highly innovative electronic products and systems range for international markets delivering record growth and profits for the company.

Co-founder and inaugural president of the SA Electronics Industry Association, now the Technology Industry Association, he partnered UniSA in research and in skills and training endeavours to advance the state and the nation. Today he is a director of the Leaders Institute of South Australia, the Manufacturing Excellence Taskforce Australia Ltd and a member of the Premier’s Science and Industry Council.

William Cossey AM, a senior executive across many departments of the South Australian public service is being honoured for his long standing contribution to the University as a 10 year member of the University Council and an outstanding advocate for higher education.

He has worked as CEO for the State Courts Administration Authority, the Adelaide Festival Centre Trust, State Services Department, the Office of Business and Regional Development, the Office of the Government management Board, the Department of Education, Training and Employment and the Attorney General’s Department and deputy CEO for the Department of Industry and Trade.

He has served on numerous boards and continues and active governance role  for the Energy and Water Ombudsmen’s Office, Tennis South Australia, the Don Dunstan Foundation and People’s Choice credit Union.

The awards will be presented at graduations ceremonies this week at the Adelaide Convention Centre and the recipients will also be the occasional speakers at the ceremonies.

Alexander Downer will be awarded at the 10.30 am ceremony Thursday August 29

Michel K Heard will be awarded at the 3pm ceremony Thursday August 29

William Cossey will be awarded at the 3pm ceremony Wednesday August 28. 

Media contact: Michèle Nardelli office: 08 8302 0966 mobile: 0418 823 673 email: Michele.nardelli@unisa.edu.au

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