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SCU honours graduates


23 September 2004
A former Kyogle beef cattle farmer, who left school at the age of 14 and is now a recognised world expert in his field, will be among 568 students graduating from Southern Cross University (SCU) on Saturday, September 25.

Jeff Parr, 50, will graduate with his PhD after completing four years of research into palaeolandscapes in West New Britain, Papua New Guinea. He is among 16 PhD students who will graduate, the largest number in SCU’s history, after completing research into topics as diverse as Atttention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, nurse healers and tourism enterprises.

Jeff’s career in archaeology and plant biology began after health problems forced him to quit heavy manual work. He started taking small courses, which eventually led to an undergraduate degree in archaeology and plant biology and then to Honours at SCU.

“During my honours we discovered that my liver was damaged and I was given two years by the doctor before I needed a transplant, which at the time had a two and a half year waiting list,” Jeff said.

He said he set himself the goal of finishing his Honours, and when he achieved that, set a new goal of finishing a PhD. He started the PhD in 2000 and moved to mainland West New Britain, Papua New Guinea.

His research there led to the development of a new method of extracting fossil plant stones, a process now being used at Berkley University California and at the Australian National University.

“After starting the PhD a new form of treatment came along for my liver problem and I was lucky to get on it. After a year of mild chemotherapy and another drug my liver was disease free.”

He is now doing further work for the University of Sydney at the Australian Museum and is keen to further his research through SCU next year.

SCU Vice-Chancellor Professor Paul Clark said the growing number of PhD graduates was evidence of the university’s commitment to research and helped cement the university’s position as regionally relevant and internationally significant.

“I congratulate all these students on the hard work and energy they have put in to pursue their academic studies. We now have graduates throughout Australia and the world who are leaders in their chosen fields,” Professor Clark said.

“In the last four years SCU has doubled the amount of research funding it has attracted from private and public sectors and I look forward to continued growth in this area.”

The graduation ceremonies will be held at the Whitebrook Theatre on Saturday. The Division of Arts and Health and Applied Sciences will start at 9am and Division of Business at 11.30am.

The ceremonies will include the presentation of two Chancellor’s Medals for Outstanding PhD thesis. The occasional speaker for the first ceremony will be the Ambassador of Japan, His Excellency, Mr Kenzo Oshima. Major General Michael Keating will give the occasional address for the second ceremony.

Media contact: Brigid Veale, SCU Media Liaison, 66593006 or m. 0439 680 748.