UNSW celebrates alumni high achievers

A philanthropist novelist, a business leader, a mental health educator and an Australian cricketer were among a group of high achievers recognised at UNSW’s 2016 Alumni Awards.

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London-based contemporary artist Shaun Gladwell accepts his award for Art and Culture. Photo: Andy Baker

A philanthropist novelist, a business leader, a mental health educator and an Australian cricketer were among a group of high achievers to be recognised at UNSW’s 2016 Alumni Awards.

The annual Awards Dinner celebrate the success and leadership of ten of the University’s most distinguished graduates.

The winners were welcomed to the University this week by Chancellor David Gonski, President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Jacobs and Vice-President Philanthropy Jon Paparsenos.

Professor Jacobs congratulated the awardees, noting they join a select group of fewer than 200 winners, drawn from a UNSW alumni community of over 277,000 graduates across 146 countries. “Being surrounded by all of you this evening reminds me how privileged I feel to be part of this great university, this great community,” he said.

Acclaimed contemporary artist Shaun Gladwell returned from his base in London to receive his award in the category of Art and Culture. “At some point after leaving UNSW Art & Design Ross (Dean Ross Harley) has put a GPS chip in me somewhere, he keeps track of my movements and I’m very thankful for his support,” Gladwell joked.

Company director, social entrepreneur and novelist John M. Green and his wife Jenny Green were recognised for their professional and creative careers, but also for their philanthropy and championing of literacy and literature. The generous John M Green scholarships, each worth $100,000 over five years, enable eligible HSC graduates to complete an undergraduate combined law degree of their choosing at UNSW.

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John and Jenny Green were honored for their philanthropy and contribution to education and literature. Photo: Andy Baker

Together with son Martin and daughter Alison (also a UNSW alumna), the Greens run book publisher Pantera Press. Jenny, who graduated from UNSW with a Bachelor of Science, said she was thrilled to be recognised in the awards: “UNSW has been very important in our lives and it’s an honour for both John and I to receive this award”.

UNSW Law graduate John said he was especially pleased that five of the John M. Green scholarship winners were able to attend the awards. “We hope to see you winning alumni awards for achievement in the years to come,” he said.

Business leader Robert (Bob) Cameron AO was recognised for his long and distinguished career in the business community. “I was at university at a wonderful time, we had a full-time wizard on campus, there were moratorium marches followed by wonderful rock concerts, we used to have water and flour fights on the library lawn, coffee and cards in the roundhouse.” Bob has held leadership roles with various professional organisations, higher education institutions and the Hunter Valley community through his work in the mining industry.

Mental health educator Betty Kitchener returned to UNSW for the first time in “decades” to receive her award for Medicine and Health. The Mental Health First Aid program, started by Betty and her husband Tony, has been implemented in “more than 20 countries, we’ve had over 1.2 million people trained in Mental Health First Aid”.

University of Melbourne Provost Professor Margaret Sheil was recognised in the Science and Technology category. Margaret, who completed her undergraduate degree and PhD at UNSW, has enjoyed a long and successful career in teaching, at the Australian Research Council and in education leadership.

Cricket coach and mentor Bill Anderson was present on the night to receive the award for Sport on behalf of Aviation graduate and international cricketer Usman Khawaja. Bill made mention of Usman’s obvious talent, but also his hard work, dedication and commitment to work in the community which he undertakes as a key member of the Sydney Thunder Leadership Program.

The Young Alumni award was presented to Airtasker and Tank Stream Ventures co-founders Jonathan Lui and Tim Fung. Chancellor David Gonski commended them for not only their entrepreneurial endeavours, but also their commitment to giving back. “It’s wonderful to see both Jonathan and Tim are mentors and supporters of Australian start-ups.”

Also presented on the night was the inaugural award for Student Volunteer. Fourth-year Commerce/Law student George Pasas was recognised for his active involvement in the UNSW community, both academically, representing UNSW internationally, and as a student mentor, volunteer and club officer.

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Back row (L to R): Student Volunteer award winner George Pasas, Young Alumni winner Jonathan Lui, Arts and Culture winner John M. Green. Front row (L to R): Medicine and Health winner Adjunct Professor Betty Kitchener, Arts and Culture winner Shaun Gladwell, Young Alumni winner Tim Fung, Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Jacobs, Chancellor David Gonski, Business and Innovation winner Bob Cameron, Arts and Culture winner Jenny Green and Science and Technology winner Professor Margaret Sheil. Photo: Andy Baker

Award winners Peter Cousins (Design, Engineering and Innovation), Deputy Commissioner Catherine Burn APM (Social Impact and Public Policy) and Eddy Sariaatmadja (International Alumni) were unable to attend the ceremony. They will be presented with their awards on another occasion.