ACU honours leaders whose success was helping others find theirs

Pictured: Sir Gerard Brennan

 ACU will award honourary doctorates to two outstanding Australians this week.

Two great leaders who have a genuine commitment to helping others will be recognised when ACU confers its highest honour, Doctor of the University (Honoris Causa), on Sir Gerard Brennan and Sister Elizabeth Dodds rsc at ceremonies in Sydney.

Sir Gerard, Australia’s first Catholic Chief Justice, will be awarded for his passion for justice under the rule of law, integrity, strong commitment to duty and public service.

A dedicated educator, Sister Elizabeth will be recognised for her positive impact on countless lives through education and healthcare.

ACU Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Greg Craven AO, GCSG said, “Sir Gerard has been said to possess ‘a thoroughly Catholic character’ – he is someone who has always placed value on the dignity of the individual and equality before the law. He applied these values throughout his career.”

Admitted to the Queensland Bar in 1951, Sir Gerard quickly gained respect, taking on a diverse range of cases where he demonstrated his comprehensive knowledge of the law.

Among his many achievements, Sir Gerard represented the Northern Land Council before the Woodward Royal Commission into Aboriginal Land Rights in the Northern Territory in 1974.  He was the first president of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and the Administrative Review Council, and a founding judge of the Federal Court of Australia.

He said the law was “most needed when it stands against popular attitudes sometimes engendered by those with power and when it protects the unpopular against the clamour of the multitude.”

Sir Gerard was one of the founding patrons of the ACU Institute of Legal Studies.

From his long and illustrious career, Sir Gerard says he has gained “an enormous appreciation of the role law has played in maintaining a free and confident society.”

A member of the Sisters of Charity, Sister Elizabeth’s hunger for new challenges saw her complete multiple undergraduate and teaching qualifications, as well as a Master of Education from the University of Sydney and a Master of Arts in Leadership from ACU.

Though encouraged to pursue her doctorate, Sister Elizabeth instead felt compelled to teach. She taught in secondary schools, later becoming a principal in New South Wales and Victoria and the director of the Edmund Rice Education Directorate in Queensland and the Northern Territory.

Elected as the congregational leader of the Sisters of Charity, Sister Elizabeth served in that role from 2002 until 2008. During that time, she was involved in the Catholic health system and worked on Catholic Health Australia’s Stewardship Board.

Today, she continues to support Catholic health and social services while spending most of her time working in education and governance. She is the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference nominee on the National Catholic Education Commission (NCEC) and chairs the Commission’s Faith Formation and Religious Education Committee.

Sister Elizabeth’s passion for the renewal and leadership of the laity within the Church, for governance and for justice reflects her lifelong commitment to serving the common good.


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