13 December 2006

UQ’s first Chilean PhD graduate together with a former UQ Senator have received special awards at UQ graduation ceremonies today (December 13).

The Chilean graduate, Professor Victor Cubillos Godoy, now Rector (President/Vice Chancellor) of the Universidad Austral de Chile, one of Chile’s most prestigious universities, was awarded UQ’s 2006 International Alumnus of the Year.

Long-serving UQ Senator, Kay Whitfield, was also presented with a University Medal for distinguished service.

Both were conferred at graduation ceremonies for the faculties of Biological and Chemical Sciences (BACS) and Natural Resources, Agriculture and Veterinary Sciences (NRAVS) at the UQ Centre this morning.

Professor Cubillos is an internationally respected veterinary science academic and researcher and education leader within Chile and South America.

He has been an active and founding member of the UQ alumni in Chile and in his new role as Rector, is looking to develop a close relationship with UQ in areas of collaborative research, English language training, student mobility and PhD degrees for selected academic staff.

Professor Cubillos was one of the first three English Language Intensive Course for Overseas Students (ELICOS) students at the Institute of Continuing and TESOL Education (ICTE-UQ) in the early 1980s and subsequently completed his PhD in two-and-a-half years.

He is believed to be the first Australian-educated academic to be appointed Rector of a University.

Ms Whitfield, from Auchenflower, has worked at UQ for 37 years.

She started in 1969 as a telephone switch operator at the University’s vet farm at Pinjarra Hills before moving to the main switch at St Lucia.

She also served on the Senate for 11 years or more than three terms after being elected in 1995 as the non-graduate general staff representative.

Associate Professor Jennifer Martin, a leading biochemist in drug design and protein structure, will be guest speaker at the 2pm BACS ceremony.

Media inquiries: Shirley Glaister at UQ Communications (3365 1931).