Revered academic, economist, and former Victoria University (VU) Vice-Chancellor, Professor Peter Dawkins AO has been honoured for his outstanding contribution to the Australian Higher Education sector with the 2021 Australian Financial Review Higher Education Lifetime Achievement Award.
The AFR Awards highlight the tremendous contribution higher education makes to the Australian quality of life, and recognises and celebrates excellence in the sector.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Adam Shoemaker said Professor Dawkins was a visionary and the award was richly deserved.
“There are special people whom you come across in professional life and Peter is one of those who is absolutely unforgettable,” Professor Shoemaker said.
“With his intellect and ideas, coupled with an ability to make things happen, he is a leader who all of us in the sector admire.
“Peter saw the potential for something quite world-changing with the VU Block Model and – without its adoption – the University would not be in the healthy state it is in today; it would not be as energetic, as innovative and as unique.”
Prof Dawkins was VU Vice-Chancellor and President from 2011 to December 2020.
He implemented the VU Block Model in 2018 – a revolutionary, Australian-first way of teaching where students study one subject at a time, in smaller classes. Students have more one-on-one time with dedicated teachers and the results have proven its success.
“VU is a wonderful university with a powerful moral purpose. It was a privilege to work with the whole university on a transformational agenda that worked so well due to the efforts of so many,” Professor Dawkins said.
Born in the UK, Professor Dawkins holds a Bachelor of Science and PhD from Loughborough University, where he became a Distinguished Alumnus in 2012. He also holds a Master of Science (Economics) from the University of London. He came to Australia in 1984 and became an Australian Citizen in 1988.
He was Curtin University’s first Professor of Economics from 1990 to 1995 and the Ronald Henderson Professor and Director of the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research at the University of Melbourne from 1996 to 2005.
From 2005 to 2010 he held senior positions in the Victorian Public Service, including Deputy Secretary of the Department of Treasury and Finance and Secretary of the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development.
With former Premier Steve Bracks, Professor Dawkins established, and currently Chairs, the West of Melbourne Economic Development Alliance (WoMEDA).