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Beverly Derewianka

Emeritus Professor

Citation delivered by Professor Glenn Salkeld Executive Dean of the Faculty of the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities at the University of Wollongong on the occasion of the admission of Beverly Derewianka as an Emeritus Professor of the University on 1 November 2017.

Chancellor, I present Beverly Derewianka.

In acknowledging Professor Derewianka as a pre-eminent specialist in the study of language and linguistics, it is perhaps apt to quote the great American novelist Louis L'Amour, “a teacher has only his lifetime; a good book can teach forever”; Professor Derewianka has accomplished both feats.

Over the course of more than forty years, Beverly has educated primary, secondary and tertiary students in her speciality of language education and literacy. She can also lay claim to an enviable list of academic publications and educator textbooks, which have influenced curriculum and syllabus development in English language across Australia, the UK, Singapore, Hong Kong and the USA.

Professor Derewianka joined the University of Wollongong as a research officer in 1985, bringing with her an already considerable catalogue of professional experience in language education in schools. Beverly’s appointment as lecturer in 1986 coincided with her commencement of linguistics studies at the University of Sydney and later Macquarie University, where she completed her PhD in 1996. This period consolidated her reputation as a leading exponent of educational linguistics and genre pedagogy, and resulted in a series of ground-breaking publications.

Beverly held a number of key positions at UOW, including Acting Associate Dean Research and Deputy Associate Dean Research in the Faculty of Education, as well as serving on a number of university-wide committees. She was founding Director of the Centre for Research Education, and later, Director of the Centre for Research in Language and Literacy – enterprises that helped attract external funding and consolidated the reputation of UOW in the field. Beverly was promoted to Associate Professor in 1999 and in 2007 became Professor of Language Education. Since 2014, she has been an honorary Professorial Fellow, remaining involved as investigator, mentor and advisor on a number of literacy-related projects within the School of Education.

Throughout her distinguished career, Professor Derewianka is unique in that she has successfully negotiated the different areas of research and policy and practice, earning the endorsement of teachers, academics and policy-makers alike. This reputation led to her appointment to the writing team for the Australian Curriculum for English, and subsequent consultancies to federal and state jurisdictions, as well as work in educational reform in Hong Kong.

Professor Derewianka's contribution to the research community is outstanding. Since 1999, her funded projects total over $5m, and include four Australian Research Council grants and an Economic and Social Research Council (UK) grant. A prolific and highly successful writer, her publications include 11 books, 16 book chapters and numerous journal articles, with her reference books for literacy educators selling over 140,000 copies internationally.

Professor Derewianka is also acknowledged nationally and internationally for her reputation as a doctoral supervisor, attracting students from all over the world to UOW. Over the years she has successfully supervised more than 25 doctoral theses students, many of whom have gone on to develop their academic careers and to impact on literacy research and teaching in contexts beyond the University of Wollongong.

Beverly’s various awards indicate the breadth of her influence in educational linguistics and literacy and include the Nicoll Award for Best Teacher Education Publication, the Australian Literacy Educators’ Association Citation of Merit Award for distinguished contribution to literacy education in Australia, and the Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Research Supervision. In 2012, Professor Derewianka was conferred a Life Membership of the Primary English Teaching Association of Australia.

Beverly cites one of her major life goals as being “to make a positive difference in people’s lives”. Through her prodigious contribution to literacy education and linguistics, she has in no small part aided educators world-wide and expanded the worlds of countless students, empowering them to develop independence over their own learning, which is a gift that pays dividends for a lifetime; and that alone represents an legacy of considerable heft.

Chancellor, for her service and dedication to this University, and in recognition of her substantial contributions to the field of literacy research, and literacy curriculum and practice, it is a privilege and a pleasure to present Beverly Derewianka for admission as an Emeritus Professor of the University of Wollongong.

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