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Who will be SCU's Alumnus of the Past 20 Years?


Steve Spinks
27 August 2014
Southern Cross University will name its Alumnus of the Past 20 Years on Saturday, August 30, as part of the 20th Anniversary and Alumni Reunion at the Lismore campus.

There are a wide range of activities throughout the day and members of the community are invited to attend.

There are nine finalists who are in contention for the prestigious award, which will be announced as part of a day of celebrations at the campus. Alumni relations manager, Dan Sloan, said the nine nominees were worthy finalists.

“The Alumnus of the Past 20 Years will be something special,” Mr Sloan said.

“This award takes into account more than 55,000 graduates not only from Southern Cross University, but also from its predecessor institutions – the University of New England Northern Rivers, the Northern Rivers College of Advanced Education and the Lismore Teachers College.”

The finalists are:

Southern Cross Business School (undergraduate): Margot Sweeny, the CEO of Summerland Credit Union. Margot has a diverse background in banking, accounting, finance, construction, education and computing within the public and private sectors. She has held the position of chief executive officer of Summerland Credit Union Limited since 1999.

Southern Cross Business School (postgraduate): David Cooke, managing director and chairperson of Konica Minolta Business Solutions Australia Pty Ltd. David has held this role since May 2013. He is the first non-Japanese person to be appointed to the role.

School of Arts and Social Sciences: Major-General Liz Cosson (ret). Liz is deputy secretary of the Business Services Group in the Department of Immigration and Border Protection where she is responsible for delivering a range of corporate services. Prior to this Liz had an outstanding career in the Australian Army. She was the first female to be promoted to the rank of Brigadier and in 2007, to the rank of Major General.

School of Education: Janelle Saffin. Janelle is a lawyer, politician and educator who throughout a long and successful career in public service, has championed human rights. Ms Saffin served in the NSW Legislative council from 1995 to 2003. Janelle was senior political adviser to his Excellency Dr Jose Ramos-Horta while he was Timor Leste’s Foreign Minister, Defence Minister, Prime Minister and President. She was also the first woman to represent the Federal seat of Page.

School of Environment, Science and Engineering: Dermot O’Gorman. Dermot is the CEO of WWF Australia at World Wide Fund for Nature. Dermot has more than two decades experience in conservation and sustainable development. He has worked in a range of roles with the WWF organisation since 1998.

Gnibi College of Indigenous Australian Peoples: Kathy Mokaraka. Kathy was an Aboriginal Healing consultant at Ruah Community Services, in the West Australian Government in the Department of Health. Her principal focus was developing and facilitating healing therapies for Indigenous women, in prison and in the wider community.

School of Law and Justice: Leanne Minshull. Since 2012, Leanne has worked as deputy unit head, climate and energy, Greenpeace International, based in Amsterdam. In 2007 she was employed as a political advisor to Greenpeace Asia Pacific and as national campaign director for Make Poverty History.

School of Health and Human Sciences: Ben Newton. Ben is the Disability Discrimination Act community engagement officer with Queensland Rail. Ben is also a wheelchair athlete. He won a gold medal as part of the Australian wheelchair rugby team at the 2012 London Paralympics, and in 2014 was awarded an OAM.

School Tourism and Hospitality Management: Professor Nerilee Hing. She is the founding director of Southern Cross University’s Centre for Gambling Education and Research and has researched gambling for more than 17 years. Nerilee has secured $6.2 million in competitive external grants, most as chief investigator. She has published more than 120 refereed manuscripts.

The award ceremony will be held in conjunction with the 2014 Alumni of the Year Award, from 2.30pm at the Whitebrook Theatre. The Alumni of the Year Awards, which started in 2005, highlights exceptional achievement and/or outstanding service to community or profession.There will be an announcement of the 2014 Outstanding Alumnus of the Year, the 2014 Young Alumnus of the Year and also the School Alumnus of the Year winners.

Photo: Kathy Mokaraka.