Prominent Australians honoured at UniSA graduations

The academic procession about to walk into the Pridham Hall as part of graduation ceremonies in April. COMMUNITY
The academic procession about to walk into the Pridham Hall as part of graduation ceremonies in April.

Five honorary awards have been presented at UniSA’s graduation ceremonies in April, recognising exceptional achievement and acknowledging significant contributions to scholarship, professional practice and service to the University and its community.

Aboriginal Australian soprano, actor and composer Deborah Cheetham (see separate UniSA News story), who wrote the new processional music for UniSA graduation ceremonies, received an Honorary Doctorate.

The other recipients were:

Guy Maron AM

Bill Muirhead AM

Associate Professor Monica Oliphant AO

Emeritus Professor Rhonda Sharp

Guy Maron AM

Guy Maron AMCelebrated Australian architect and designer of the original UniSA City West campus, Guy Maron AM, has been made a Fellow of the University of South Australia.

The award acknowledges his significant career contribution to Australian architecture, his innovation and his major role in the foundation of UniSA’s City West campus.

UniSA Vice Chancellor Professor David Lloyd says Maron’s design for City West, selected in a national competition, was quite revolutionary for its time.

“What is impressive about his work, is his capacity to capture the spirit of the place and space he is working in and deliver buildings that function as they should, whether that be the inspiring Botanic Gardens Bicentennial Conservatory or the egalitarian, energy-efficient teaching spaces that made up the original footprint of City West,” Prof Lloyd says.

“Guy’s work is ambitious and enterprising, reflecting his character as an architect and, as a leading educator of Australian architects, it is fitting that this University welcomes him as a Fellow.”

Maron studied architecture at the University of New South Wales. He was mentored by leading Australian modernist Harry Seidler before moving to North America where he lived and studied for four years.

Moving to Adelaide in 1972, he became a principal in the firm Cheesman, Doley, Neighbour and Raffen.

Maron’s career took off in the late 1980s and he completed his most famous building, the Bicentennial Conservatory, in the Adelaide Botanic Gardens in 1989. The building went on to win 10 national as well as international design awards, including the BHP Architecture of the Decade Award.

He also designed the Mount Lofty Lookout in the Adelaide Hills.

Maron is a Life Fellow of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects and a foundation Member of the Australian Academy of Design. In 2000 he was presented with the Order of Australia for his contribution to contemporary architecture.

Bill Muirhead AM

Bill Muirhead AMHe’s been called the ‘best-connected expat in London’ but during graduations, Agent General for South Australia, Bill Muirhead AM, is being feted on his home soil instead.

The Adelaide-born advertising executive and champion of all things South Australian has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate for his services to the State.

His decade-long commitment to promoting South Australia – drawing on his unique advertising talents and huge network of contacts – has paid handsomely for the State since his appointment as Agent General in 2007.

A founding director of renowned British advertising agency M&C Saatchi, Muirhead has lived in the UK longer than his birth country but his South Australian roots run deep – both sides of his family settled in SA in the 1800s.

He moved to London with his family as a teenager, returning to Australia after finishing school and starting work in advertising before heading back to the UK capital where his career flourished.

A partnership with Maurice and Charles Saatchi proved life-changing, notably when the agency won the Conservative Party account in 1978 and led to Margaret Thatcher’s landslide victory a year later.

Muirhead’s talent for political advertising also helped the Conservatives win government in 1992 and again in 2015.

In 2011, Muirhead set up the South Australia Club in London as a networking forum to help promote the State’s exporters and encourage foreign investment. The club has since expanded to 200 members with new chapters launched in Shanghai and Hong Kong in 2015 and an Adelaide chapter added in 2016.

UniSA Vice Chancellor Professor David Lloyd says Muirhead has made “an enormous contribution” to South Australia in the past decade.

“His valuable connections and promotion of the State as a destination of choice for foreign investment, migration, study and tourism shouldn’t be underestimated. He’s an unparalleled champion for all things South Australian,” Prof Lloyd says.

Associate Professor Monica Oliphant AO

Associate Professor Monica Oliphant AOEnergy research scientist, Adjunct Associate Professor Monica Oliphant AO, was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from UniSA recognising her career contribution to environmental sustainability and to research and education in renewable energy and energy efficiency.

An adjunct at UniSA, Assoc Prof Oliphant runs her own consultancy, Monica Oliphant Research Scientist specialising in residential energy efficiency and renewable energy.

She graduated with a master's degree in physics from the University of London and worked for almost 20 years as an energy research scientist for the Electricity Trust of South Australia (ETSA).

UniSA Vice Chancellor Professor David Lloyd says Assoc Prof Oliphant’s contribution has been impressive both locally and globally.

“In the 1980s Monica spearheaded research at ETSA into wind power, laying the groundwork for successful wind energy innovation and investment,” Prof Lloyd says.

“In her capacity as President of the International Solar Energy Society from 2008 to 2009 and as a board member today, she continues to spread the news around the world about the highly successful practical and experimental research projects in South Australia that are keenly focused on renewables and sustainable living.”

In Australia Assoc Prof Oliphant has been active on major federal and state government committees including Australia’s Mandatory Renewal Energy Target Review which heralded the first rebates to householders installing solar panels.

She received an AO in the 2015 Queen’s Birthday Honours List and was named Senior South Australian of the Year in 2016, in recognition of her research and education activities in renewable energy.

Emeritus Professor Rhonda Sharp

Emeritus Professor Rhonda SharpUniSA has conferred the honorary title of Emeritus Professor on economics researcher Professor Rhonda Sharp in recognition of her distinguished service to the University. Through her various roles at UniSA, including Research Chair and Professor of Economics at UniSA’s Hawke Research Institute, Prof Sharp made a significant contribution to the University’s research quantum and reputation during her career.

She has played an important role in building the reputation of the University through the international impact of her research, and the many invitations she received as a result to consult with and present to international governments and bodies such as the United Nations.

Her co-authored book Shortchanged: Women and Economic Policies was one of the earliest contributions to the field of women and Australian economic policies and received several highly favourable reviews for challenging gender blind economic theory and policy.Prof Sharp was a founding member and, in 2000 was elected president of, the International Association for Feminist Economics – an organisation of approximately 600 members drawn from more than 40 countries. Her research in the fields of gender and government policies and budgets and globalisation and restructuring of work and households has generated an international reputation for leadership within the emerging discipline of feminist economics. In 2007 she was invited as a member of the UN Expert Group and co-author of its report Financing Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment.