Three distinguished members of the community have been awarded ACU’s highest honour, Doctor of the University.
ACU has conferred its highest honour, Doctor of the University, on three distinguished members of the community – the Honourable Barry O’Keefe AM QC, Very Rev. Peter Williams and Mr Ian MacRitchie.
Dr O’Keefe was awarded for his distinguished career in the Australian judicial system as a practitioner and judge, and for a lifetime of outstanding public service in the interests of the common good, particularly in the fight against corruption and injustice.
A dedicated teacher, theologian and musician, Father Peter Williams is recognised for his distinguished contribution to the liturgical life of the Catholic Church in Australia and internationally.
Mr MacRitchie was honoured for his contribution to Timor-Leste, by inspiring his friends, associates and the financial planning industry to contribute and directly involve themselves in his vision of empowerment through facilitating the education, health and wellbeing of future leaders of that community.
Each recipient delivered an occasional address to graduates at three ceremonies in Sydney. A former judge, barrister, Commissioner of the Independent Commission Against Corruption, and Chairman of the Catholic Church’s Truth Justice and Healing Council, Dr O’Keefe said the award was a high point of his career in law.
"Never, in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine that anything like this would happen to me. I am quite overcome by the recognition it carries with it. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
"Whatever may be the use to which you put your degree I wish you every success and hope that what you have gained from your course of study will help to make you more content in the years ahead."
Almost 800 students graduated from the Faculties of Health Sciences, Education and Arts, Law and Business, and Theology and Philosophy over five ceremonies in two days at Luna Park. Graduation ceremonies have been held in Canberra and Ballarat and will soon be held for students from the Melbourne and Brisbane campuses.
Associate Vice-Chancellor (Sydney), Professor Marea Nicholson, said graduation ceremonies provided an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of students and congratulated Father Peter Williams, Mr O’Keefe and Mr MacRitchie on their awards of Doctor of the University.
"ACU values the contributions these community leaders have made throughout their lives," she said. "Father Peter Williams, Barry O’Keefe and Ian MacRitchie are inspirational people who demonstrate the changes that can be made to enrich the lives of others. They are tremendous role models for those who are graduating and leaving the University to forge their own paths of employment and engagement."
* Mr O’Keefe died in Sydney two weeks after the graduation ceremony. He had been suffering from lung cancer.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Greg Craven said he was saddened to learn of Mr O’Keefe’s death, and that his passing would be mourned by his family and friends, and the legal, local and Catholic communities.
"Barry was a tower of strength to all those who knew him and he touched many of those who did not. He was a daunting opponent in a courtroom but never allowed the theatre of the courtroom or the pursuit of justice to interfere with his sense of fair play or his ability to bring humour to the occasion.
"On behalf of the ACU community, I would like to extend our greatest condolences to Janette and to Barry’s children and extended family."