UC awards excellent alumni

UC awards excellent alumni

Newsroom staff

16 October 2013: A famous children’s author, former Wallabies captain and international politician were among the University of Canberra alumni recognised at the 2013 Distinguished Alumni Awards.

The Overall Distinguished Alumni Award winner was Maldives politician and leader of education reform Ibrahim Ismail. Four Alumni Excellence Awards were also received per faculty, including to author Morris Gleitzman and former Brumbies player George Gregan.

Overall winner: Ibrahim Ismail

Ibrahim Ismail was one of two political leaders to challenge a 30-year dictatorship in the Maldives, a small island in the Indian Ocean. This started a grassroots movement for democratic change, resulting in the country’s first constitutions and democratic, multi-party election.

Ibrahim Ismail

Ibrahim Ismail, a political and educational leader in the Maldives, won the Overall Distinguished Alumni Award, presented by Chancellor John Mackay. Photo: David Beach

Mr Ismail also revolutionised the county’s education system when he re-designed the Maldives’ school curriculum, revolutionised the exam system and pursued better quality education.

Mr Ismail said it was “a great pleasure to visit campus after 20 years”, saying the University played a key role in launching his career.

“The University of Canberra certainly had a huge contribution in making me what I am today,” Mr Ismail said. “The things I have learnt from this University have shaped my career and formed what I did for the betterment of humanity - especially in my country.”

The 49-year-old graduated in 1992 with a Bachelor of Education and then completed his master’s in 1994.

“I had some of the best times of my life at UC, I made good friends and had teachers who inspired me for the six years I was on campus,” he said.  

Faculty of Arts and Design: Morris Gleitzman

International best-selling children’s author Morris Gleitzman is a professional writing alumnus from the University and said winning the Faculty of Arts and Design’s Alumni Excellence Award was a “wonderful honour”.

Morris Gleitzman

International best-selling children’s author Morris Gleitzman won the Alumni Excellence Award for the Faculty of Arts and Design. Photo: David Beach

“Young readers often ask me how I became an author and when I tell them it was from getting a Bachelor of Arts in Professional Writing it seems a bit ordinary to them, but I point out to them it was far from ordinary.

“In 1971 we were pioneers. There was nothing comfortable or pre-ordained; it was back even before Belconnen had a lake. To come back after all this time and see what a magnificent institution this has become is a huge pleasure,” Mr Gleitzman said.

With over 35 successful children’s novels published in 20 countries, Mr Gleitzman recently released his latest novel Extra. All his books have won or been shortlisted for awards; including Two Weeks with the Queen, the Wicked! And Deadly! series co-written with Paul Jennings and a four-part series on children in the holocaust.

Finalists for this faculty were online magazine www.hercanberra.com.au editor Amanda Whitley, Vietnamese teacher An Hoai Thi Nguyen and award-winning advertising executive Paul Nagy.

Faculty of Education, Science, Technology and Mathematics: George Gregan

Legendary Wallabies captain and foundation Brumbies player, George Gregan AM, won the Alumni Excellence Award for the Faculty of Education, Science, Technology and Mathematics.

George Gregan AM

George Gregan AM, former Wallabies captain and foundation Brumbies player, won the award for the Faculty of Education, Science, Technology and Mathematics. Photo: David Beach

The Zambian-born rugby champion is the most capped Wallaby in Australian history and graduated in 1994 with a Bachelor of Education (Physical Education).

The 40-year-old was appointed to the Order of Australia and was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 2009.

He also set up the George Gregan Foundation that funds playground construction in children’s hospitals and funds a fellowship in paediatric neurology specialising in epilepsy.

Finalists in the running for this award were leading ACT teacher Peter Blunt and overall winner Ibrahim Ismail.

Faculty of Health: Paul Thompson

Paul Thompson, a Bachelor of Science in Health Education alumus, won the Alumni Excellence Award for the Faculty of Health.

Paul Thompson

Olympic and international rowing coach, Paul Thompson, won the Alumni Excellence Award for the Faculty of Health. Photo: David Beach

Currently chief coach for the women and lightweights of Great Britain’s rowing team, Mr Thompson has also coached Australian gold-medal rowing teams at several Olympic Games.

Mr Thompson has been inducted into the Sports Coach UK Hall of Fame twice and received numerous other coaching accolades.

Psychologist Anne-Maree Hartley and University health research professor Helen Berry were finalists for the faculty.

Faculty of Business, Government and Law: Rahul Mirchandani

Rahul Mirchandani, executive director of Indian multinational company Aries Agro Limited, won the award for the Faculty of Business, Government and Law.

Rahul Mirchandani

Rahul Mirchandani, executive director of multinational Indian company Aries Agro Limited, won the award for the Faculty of Business, Government and Law. Photo: David Beach

Aries Agro Limited produces 85 of India’s most respected plant fertilizer brands and has the country’s largest manufacturing base.

The company covers eight million farmers in 22 Indian stated and 90,000 retailers.

Also in the running for this award were financial wizard Gail Freeman and senior communications public servant Michel Salloom, one of the first ever graduates from the then Canberra College of Advanced Education in 1973.

The University of Canberra alumni network is made up of almost 70,000 graduates, former staff and friends of the University and the former Canberra College of Advanced Education.