UniSA Vice Chancellor and President Professor David Lloyd

2021 Alumni Awards Address

Vice Chancellor & President Professor David Lloyd

Good evening.

Don’t we all look wonderful tonight, in our Halloween costumes, with masks, all dressed up ready to party. You know there’s a cave in the west of Ireland where Halloween is thought to have originated: the Irish eh? We’re as bad as the Greeks for appropriation.

The fact that most of us have almost forgotten how to party should not weigh too heavily but isn’t it just great! Being out, at night, with other people. Not wearing track pants. Finding out if your tux still fits. Panicking when it didn’t. So worth it though.

I’m thrilled to see you all here tonight, to celebrate the university’s 30th birthday alumni awards, and more so to reconnect, given that we had to cancel last year’s event because of you-know-what (that which shall not be named) that forced some of us into the aforesaid track pants.

Despite what we might have, or have not, been wearing during those endless Zoom meetings, this university has turned in an impressive performance since we last met, even if I do say so myself! And why wouldn’t I? Because it’s true.

We developed some extraordinary new products and processes to help brain health, including a new drug candidate to be used for the most lethal form of brain cancer; We produced 3D printed oesophageal stents that help deliver accurate and personalized treatment for oesophageal cancer; We found a cost-effective new technique to monitor soil moisture using a standard digital camera and machine learning technology; And we took inspiration from a 300 million year old flying machine – the dragonfly – to design a world leading drone.

Along the way we joined forces with Accenture to develop the digital business skills of the future; We collaborated with Nova Systems to explore space, defence and national security capabilities; We partnered with Babcock Australia to develop new tech for the Australian Army; and we established a new Professorial Chair in Laser Physics through a partnership with Australian technology company Electro Optic Systems.

One of the highlights of the year was bringing back – carefully – our graduation ceremonies and ushering 1600 graduates across the stage ready to meet their own futures. Not a bad 30th birthday year.

And being only 30, you can rest assured knowing we are still one of the world’s top young universities according to all the ratings agencies that matter – with 20 years left on the clock to further improve.

We are the university of choice for career-minded professionals. Who graduate from us and like so many of you here tonight go on to become our ambassadors on the world stage.

UniSA and its antecedent institutions has welcomed almost 230,000 alumni into our family, going on to great success in their chosen fields at every level.

Tonight though you’re about to meet four of our finest, men and women who make significant contributions to their communities, and carry on the good work that began with their student days.

Actually you’ll meet only three of them in person. Despite all of our achievements working within the constraints of a global health crisis, and getting you here tonight, we will miss out on seeing one of our award-winning alumni, Dr Caroline Atkinson in person.

Caroline is a First Nations superstar who runs an organisation called We Al-li which provides culturally informed trauma integrated healing and trauma specific programs and activities throughout the region.

She’s stuck in Lismore, or Tuckurimba to give its Bundjalung name, in New South Wales, but we have brought her here via video.

Tonight though, you will get to meet, in person:

Wayne Lewis, Director and Founder of Rising Sun Pictures, an award-winning visual effects production company that also makes a massive contribution to the creative and education sectors in South Australia; Kate Swaffer a retired nurse, independent scholar and author who is also Chief Executive Office and co-founder of Dementia Alliance International.

And I believe the rumours that he was outside ticketing our cars tonight are unfounded, we are delighted to also have with us South Australian Police Commissioner Grant Stevens who has spent the past 18 months guiding South Australians safely through the pandemic.

All of these amazing people developed their careers with the University of South Australia and to say that we are proud of what they have done with their education is a huge understatement.

Of course we are proud of all our alumni, but these particular award winners are truly inspirational.

The prelude to becoming a member of our alumni family is, of course, to come to UniSA as a student. I am very proud that today, as we have for the past 30 years and the 135 years before that, have flung our doors wide open to those with a thirst for knowledge and an ability to work hard enough to get it.

We have never believed that education was reserved only for those who could afford it and we have always welcomed and supported those students who gave themselves a significant challenge, just by deciding to improve their fortunes.

To paraphrase the late great Denise Bradley ‘Education is the best way to stack the hand that life has dealt you’. So ensuring access to education is always a top priority for UniSA.

We can’t do this without relying greatly on the generosity of the donors and supporters who help us provide that opportunity of access for many of our students.

Tonight I am incredibly pleased to invite four new members to join our most generous philanthropic group, the Hetzel group. The Hetzel Group is so named for the late Dr Basil Hetzel AC, a former Chancellor at UniSA and a renowned Australian medical researcher.

Basil made an enormous difference to the lives of millions with his contribution to combating iodine deficiency worldwide. We know he would have been proud to see the people now in the group named after him, significant donors who have made philanthropic gifts to the University of $100,000 or more.

That’s the kind of philanthropy that brings education within reach for hundreds of students. So many of whom will go on to further that generosity through actions of their own.

So, please help me to welcome to the Hetzel Group, The Hon John Hill and Dr Andrea Dale.

The Hon John Hill, who, full disclosure folks, is Deputy Chancellor of the University of South Australia, is a teacher-turned-lawyer-turned-politician who represented the glorious coastal district in the south-west of metropolitan Adelaide.

During John’s Parliamentary career, which began in 1997, he was the Opposition Shadow Minister for the Environment until Labor’s election in 2002, from which date until 2013 he served in a number of ministerial roles including Minister for Environment and Conservation from 2002 through 2006.

He was Minister for Health from 2005 to 2013 and Assistant Minister and Minister for the Arts from 2002 to 2013. He retired from the Cabinet in 2013 and from Parliament the next year.

Now he has a fourth career as a board member of companies such as ACH Group, a community organisation promoting services to support older people and Bellberry which provides streamlined scientific and ethical reviews of human research projects across the country. John is also Chair of Private Healthcare Australia, a not-for-profit health fund.

John is joined tonight by his wife Dr Andrea Dale a talented artist as well as a qualified teacher. She has taught primary, secondary and TAFE students and completed her PhD in the History of Postgraduate Education in Australia.

A wonderful example of life-long learning, Andrea also recently graduated with a Visual Arts Degree.

John and Andrea’s philanthropic generosity to UniSA supports scholarships named for their mothers, Mavis and Moira who were very bright women unable to access the education – or the careers – that their children enjoyed.

The impact Mavis and Moira had on their children has motivated John and Andrea to support young women to succeed in the fields of social work, psychology, psychological science and sociology all with the aim of positive affecting children.

Please join me in welcoming John and Andrea to the Hetzel Group.

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen.

Now I would like you to meet Dr Alice McCleary and Peter Murchland.

Alice was, although it’s not a prerequisite for membership of the Hetzel Group, also a Deputy Chancellor of the University of South Australia, a role she held from 2002 through 2009, and chaired the Finance Committee of the University for the whole of her 12-year term on the University’s Council.

She was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from UniSA in 2011.

Alice is a chartered accountant and director of several companies with a wealth of experience working in mining and metals, public and private healthcare, forestry, tertiary education, fisheries, superannuation, technology research and development, and professional ethics.

She was a corporate tax partner in Coopers & Lybrand (now PwC), and was intimately involved with the Ralph Review of Business Taxation in the late 1990s.

In 2001 she was National President of the Taxation Institute of Australia – the youngest person, and the first woman, to hold the position in the Institute's history.

In recent years, Alice has played a pivotal role in floating four companies on the Australian Stock Exchange – three successful minerals exploration companies, as well as the first Chinese manufacturer to list in Australia.

Alice also represented Australia on the International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants, which sets the ethical standards for the world's two and a half million accountants. That board is based in New York.

Peter Murchland is the owner of Interface Consultants. He works with Boards, directors, executives, leaders, teams and organisations to cultivate stronger individual and organisational capability in accomplishing greater enterprise outcomes and success.

Peter graduated from University of Adelaide with a Bachelor of Science in Applied Mathematics. He worked as a Business Analyst, Business Architect and Program Manager in the public sector for the first 20 years of his career and as a consultant for the last twenty years.

Peter was the Chair for the SA Business Vision 2010 Indicators Advisory Committee and has served on several boards including Uniting Care Commission and Helping Hand Aged Care.

Peter is a founding Director of Books for Lesotho, an Adelaide-based charity dedicated to developing libraries for the 2,500 primary schools and 250 high schools in Lesotho, Africa.

Alice and Peter’s generous philanthropic gift will establish a Fellowship to honour Peter’s daughter, the late Ruth Murchland who tragically was just 39 when she passed away from breast and brain cancer in 2020.

Ruth was a UniSA pharmacy graduate, and it turns out that Alice, who was Deputy Chancellor at the time, presented the degree to Ruth on the day she graduated. Ruth worked as a pharmacist with a particular interest in working with mental health teams.

The fellowship in her name will support many others to follow in her footsteps.

Please join me in welcoming Alice and Peter to the Hetzel Group

That’s the first bit of the formalities taken care of. I would like to thank you all for being here with us tonight, and to thank our four alumni award winners for being such spectacular human beings – embodying UniSA’s unstoppable spirit.

And of course – don’t lose sight of the fact that we are also celebrating those who support us to be unstoppable.

Our four new Hetzel Group members whose generosity helps our students become the kind of alumni that we celebrate. I encourage you to join them in supporting the university through your own philanthropic endeavour – you won’t believe the impact it can have.

Thank you all and enjoy the evening.

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