Education and Arts

Meet the National Head of the School of Arts

Introducing the National Head of the School of Arts, Associate Professor Michael Ondaatje, who commenced with ACU in August 2014. A historian well known for his work on African American history and politics, Michael was awarded his PhD, with Distinction, from the University of Western Australia in 2008. His thesis on African American conservatism was recognised with the Robert Street Prize for the most outstanding PhD across all of the University's disciplines. In 2010, Michael's first book, Black Conservative Intellectuals in Modern America, was published by the University of Pennsylvania Press and became a Top 20 International Bestseller in US history. In 2011 the book was recognised with the Newcastle Vice-Chancellor's Award for Research Excellence, and in 2012 was shortlisted for the Australian Historical Association's W.K. Hancock Prize.

Michael has been a Senior Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Oxford.  In 2012 the Australian Academy of the Humanities awarded him the Max Crawford Medal, 'Australia's most prestigious award for achievement and promise in the humanities'. The Crawford Medal is 'granted to early career researchers for outstanding scholarly achievement in the humanities in Australia, and to those whose publications make an exceptional contribution to the understanding of humanities disciplines by the general public'.

Michael is also committed to excellence in teaching and learning. He has been the recipient of several teaching awards at the national and university level, including an ALTC Award for Teaching Excellence (2011), an ALTC Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning (2010), the Vice-Chancellor's Award for Teaching Excellence (Newcastle, 2010), and the Faculty of Education and Arts Award for Teaching Excellence (Newcastle, 2009). He has supervised twenty Honours and PhD theses to completion.

A regular commentator on American politics in the Australian and international media, Michael has also delivered numerous public lectures, including the Annual Human Rights Day Address at the United Nations Association of Australia in 2011. He is co-editor of the Australasian Journal of American Studies, a member of the Executive Committee of the Australian Historical Association, and a former Head of History at the University of Newcastle.

In 2013 the United States Embassy in Australia selected Michael for the International Visitor Leadership Program, the premier professional exchange program of the US government.

Michael is delighted to have joined ACU: 'I am passionate about Arts, and I am looking forward to working with my colleagues to develop new and exciting initiatives that promote research and teaching excellence in Arts at ACU.  I am committed to enriching the student experience so that our graduates are prepared and inspired to fulfil their potential.

Click here to read more about our Arts programs.