Citation delivered by Professor Paul Wellings, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Wollongong on the occasion of the admission of Robert Gordon Castle to the degree of Doctor of Letters (Honoris Causa) and as an Emeritus Professor of the University on 20 July 2012.
Deputy Chancellor, on behalf of the University, I have the honour to present to you Robert Gordon Castle.
Over 40 years ago, Rob Castle was selected for a role at a small regional college beneath the slopes of Mt Keira. Rob was to become a leading player in that college’s transformation into an internationally recognised university and he is recognised today as a continuing part of UOW’s story. In another field that Rob knows and loves well, a great performer, Maria Callas, once said it all for him: “An opera begins long before the curtain goes up and ends long after it has come down. It starts in my imagination, it becomes my life, and it stays part of my life long after I've left the opera house”.
In 1970, before the curtain rose, Rob Castle joined the original University College as a senior lecturer in Economics. He took an active part in the movement for autonomy and helped to shape the identity of the new University of Wollongong. In the critical years from the early 1990s, Rob moved to leading roles as Chair of Academic Senate, Dean of Commerce, Director of International Programs and, finally, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic). He presided over the University’s ascendancy to a level of learning and teaching excellence, coveted both in Australia and overseas.
Rob Castle realised the vision of a multi-campus university. His foresight and astute political judgement steered the successful development of UOW’s onshore network of campuses at Shoalhaven, Bateman’s Bay, Bega, the Southern Highlands and Southern Sydney. His insights into the challenges of collaboration across different sites and cultures were critical for building our off-shore presence, especially at UOW Dubai.
Throughout, Rob enforced academic quality – the bedrock for accreditation and growth at UOWD and for the University’s reputation as a partner at other off-shore sites. Rob is admired and valued from Abu Dhabi to Denver for his knowledge and advice in international education. All this is matched by a very practical attribute that has greatly benefitted UOW’s development: Rob’s energy and resilience as an international traveller.
Rob Castle steered UOW successfully through two major quality audits and oversaw the development of its recent Strategic Plans. Anchoring and informing his role has been his continuing contribution as a researcher and scholar. The author and co-author of books and numerous refereed articles, Rob is a recognised authority and writer in labour economics and history as well as in tertiary learning and teaching. The academic community recognise him as one of their own.
Rob’s wry humour and generosity with his time have characterised his work with all his colleagues. His units report to him with loyalty and genuine affection and his peers among Australian university executives relish his views. The students Rob has taught personally have enjoyed an expert, entertaining and energetic teacher. He has, above all, worked to improve access for all students and to give them the best chance to succeed through high quality teaching and support.
Members of the wider community have found in Rob Castle someone who understands their regions and especially their aspirations for higher education and economic development. Again, he has been seen as someone who shares their experience and understands their history.
Deputy Chancellor, Rob Castle has made an enduring contribution to this University’s special culture. His personality has helped to shape in its down-to earth approach and ability to come down the straight and win on the day.
On behalf of the University community – his colleagues and students – I am proud and privileged to present Robert Gordon Castle for the highest honours of his University.
Deputy Chancellor, for his contribution to higher education in this University as well as nationally and internationally, I present him for the award of Doctor of Letters honoris causa. For his contribution to his discipline and his academic leadership, I present him for admission as an Emeritus Professor of the University of Wollongong.