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Professor Edward Wolfers

Emeritus Professor

Citation delivered by Emeritus Professor Stephen Hill AM, Honorary Professorial Fellow of the Faculty of the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities at the University of Wollongong on the occasion of the admission of Edward Paul Wolfers as an Emeritus Professor of the University on 22 July 2015.

Vice‑Chancellor, I present Edward Wolfers.

Many of the graduates present today stand at a crossroads in their lives, uncertain of what comes next and how much of an impact they can make to better their communities. As daunting as that challenge seems, the man standing before us all is proof that we can achieve remarkable things that make a real difference to people’s lives, that we can serve as truly global citizens, and at the same time contribute to the world’s knowledge.

Born in Paddington, Sydney, Edward (Ted) Wolfers completed a Bachelor of Arts (First Class Honours) in Government and Public Administration at the University of Sydney in 1964. In 1965, Ted travelled to Papua New Guinea (PNG) for a teaching position, unaware that this initial visit would be the foundation of a life long passion for and association with PNG. It was the start of a journey that would see Ted play a key role in nation building, autonomy and engagement in our Oceanic region.

In 1967, Ted was awarded an Institute of Current World Affairs Fellowship, which funded five years of residence, travel and writing in PNG, the Solomon Islands and Irian Jaya. Returning to Australia in 1972, he became the Foundation Lecturer in Politics at Macquarie University and was also invited to serve as a Permanent Consultant to the Committee charged with developing a constitution for an independent PNG.

In 1975, Ted earned his PhD in Political and Administrative Studies from the University of Papua New Guinea, following examination of his first book, Race Relations and Colonial Rule in Papua New Guinea. It was the first PhD to be awarded in Political Studies at the University of PNG.

Professor Wolfers joined the University of Wollongong in 1987 as the Foundation Professor of Politics, serving this University for 27 years in roles spanning research, teaching and curriculum development. Ted’s fields of research cover comparative politics, government and public policy, international relations, constitution making and constitutional development, national sovereignty and the role of women in these spheres. During his career, Ted has published more than 300 professional publications and major keynote addresses, has authored, co-authored and edited nine books and served on the editorial boards of a number of journals. He has also supervised many postgraduate students, even via distance when his work took him back to PNG.

Ted Wolfers was centrally involved in successive PNG Governments and contributed to the Bougainville Peace Process. He has served on the United Nations (UN) Panel on Opportunity and Participation, as an expert at Regional Seminars of the UN Special Committee on Decolonization, been involved in World Bank Roundtables and Parliamentary Committees (in Australia, New Zealand, PNG, the Philippines and the Solomon Islands), and has served as an adviser to PNG delegations to the UN General Assembly and the UN Security Council. Ted’s contribution to substantial political science knowledge is grounded in the wisdom of real world experience; his contribution to the people and their welfare is deeply informed by rigorous attention to disciplined knowledge.

In 2002, Professor Wolfers was appointed Companion of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George ‘for public service’ and in 2007, Companion of the Order of the Star of Melanesia, ‘for services to constitutional development, tertiary education and public policy’. Ted’s other awards include PNG’s Independence Medal in 1977 and the 30th Independence Anniversary Medal in 2006.

In exploring the inequalities between nations, Professor Wolfers has been an outstanding figure on the international stage of decolonization and his scholarship has brought enormous benefit to PNG and credit to the University of Wollongong. Despite retiring in 2014, Professor Wolfers continues to serve UOW as an Honorary Professorial Fellow. We have no doubt he will continue to play a key role in the political future of the Autonomous Bougainville Government, as it enters a critical stage.

Professor Wolfers credits his parents in helping shape his life view. They arrived in Australia in 1937 as refugees from Nazism and imparted in him a ‘strong belief in mutual respect for other people (regardless of physical appearance, language and culture, religion, social class), in human rights, and peace’. A role model to us all, Professor Wolfers is generous with his knowledge, advice and service and has an indisputable legacy, celebrated today in the company of his family, friends and former colleagues. We share their pride in his considerable achievements.

Vice‑Chancellor, for his service and dedication to this University and his outstanding contribution to international development, governance and peace-building, it is a privilege and pleasure to present Edward Wolfers for admission as an Emeritus Professor of the University of Wollongong.

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