John Bern

Emeritus Professor

Citation delivered by Professor Rob Castle, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (academic) of the University of Wollongong on the occasion of the admission of John bern as an Emeritus Professor of the University on 12 december 2011

Deputy Chancellor, I present John Bern.

John Bern’s career has been distinguished by his academic integrity, by a passion for research and teaching and by a commitment to enriching the wider society he has studied and served so well.   John’s roles at the University have included Professor of Sociology, Research Institute Director and Director of Woolyungah Indigenous Centre.  He has brought to them all his inclusive style, generosity and gentle humour.

An authority in the fields of Aboriginal Studies and Sociology, John came to Wollongong in the 1990s. He was Professor of Sociology for 16 years in tandem, from 2004, with the directorship of Woolyungah.  Throughout his career, John has worked to deepen our understanding of race relations in Australia and has played a significant role in improving intercultural relationships and communication. The importance of his research and his work with Indigenous communities has been recognised by his academic peers.  He has served as Vice President and President of the Australian Anthropological Society and was a member of the Executive Committee of the Australian Sociological Association – the peak professional bodies in his disciplines. He is the author of over one hundred publications and is a long term reviewer for the Australian Research Council (ARC).

A quiet man, John’s energy is deceptive.  In the midst of the demands on him as an academic leader and researcher, he has always been unsparing with his time and expertise, especially when it involved finding a way forward for Indigenous programs at the University. He came out of retirement to take the role of Acting Director at Woolyungah Indigenous Centre at a time of some uncertainty. His leadership in that role was critical for putting in place a sustainable strategy for reinvigorating Indigenous Studies and student services at the University.

Chancellor, today we acknowledge a highly respected scholar who has made a major contribution to public policy, to the academic life of the University and to the success of the Woolyungah Indigenous Centre. As a teacher he was engaging and, as a researcher, he was thorough and insightful.  He has put his passion for Indigenous education into practice and worked tirelessly for the people and causes he believes in. 

Chancellor, it is my pleasure and privilege to present John Bern for admission as an Emeritus Professor of the University of Wollongong.