Fellow of the University of Wollongong
Citation orated by Associate Professor David Vance.
Chancellor, I present Christine Thompson.
Christine Thompson has taken the concept of ‘giving back’ to a whole new level, dedicating her life to supporting others and building a strong and connected community.
Chris has a profound and lifelong love of education, and enjoyed a long career as a teacher and careers advisor prior to her retirement in 2008. She joined the UOW Campus Alumni Chapter as a volunteer in 2008, taking on the role of Chair of the Chapter in 2010, where she has since led and inspired a group of more than 20 volunteers in the running of the Alumni Bookshop.
The campus-based Alumni Bookshop has been in operation for more than two decades, open to the wider community to donate and purchase pre-loved books across all genres. All proceeds fund equity scholarships and prizes for ‘excellence’ for UOW students. Thus far, in excess of $285,000 has been raised and placed in perpetuity to ensure that scholarships and prizes continue, regardless of the bookshop’s operation.
These funds provide for two equity scholarships to be awarded annually, and to date, over 20 students have benefited – not only from much-needed financial assistance, but also the encouragement and emotional support so important in helping students to achieve their potential. Recipients of Alumni Chapter Bookshop Scholarships gratefully recall the time and great care Chris takes to understand each student’s journey, challenges and aspirations.
Also each year, 22 student prizes for ‘excellence’ are funded across all Faculties and Schools. Chris’ genuine interest in the recipients of these awards is evident in that she personally attends almost all prize nights, with past recipients recalling her warmth and generosity of spirit.
Chris is also highly valued for her outstanding leadership qualities, which were called to the fore during the highly stressful period when the bookshop was relocated to the University’s main campus. As ‘Champion for the Bookshop’, Chris coordinated and managed the project with great care and skill to ensure a smooth transition for both volunteers and students. Afterwards, noticing the move had adversely affected income, she devised an outreach plan to boost exposure and generate additional funds for scholarships. She volunteered yet more of her time to coordinate and run regular stalls at on-campus market days and at major events such as Open Day. She instigated a weekly bookstore at the Innovation Campus and takes books to sell at community events, conferences and exhibitions. Her phenomenal efforts saw the bookshop increase its takings which allowed for an all-time high number of student prizes and scholarships to be awarded in 2016. Under Chris’ guidance the Alumni Bookshop has gone from strength to strength, and continues to change lives.
Somehow, Chris also finds the time to contribute to the University and its community in numerous other ways, including advising on alumni engagement strategy and initiatives through the Vice-Chancellor’s Alumni Development Group, on which she served from 2010 until its disbandment in 2014.
Chris’ goal in life is to leave the world a better place for having been here. Confirmation that she has already achieved her aim is shown in the many lives she has touched with her warmth and encouragement, the values she upholds and the deep connections she has forged. Under her expert guidance the Alumni Bookshop has carved out a revered place in the hearts of students, staff, alumni and the people of the Illawarra. She has built an engaged community on warmth, giving and mutual respect.
Chancellor, Christine Thompson is a powerful ambassador for UOW and a living example of the values and attributes that we value highly in our volunteers and alumni. She continues to take great personal joy in giving selflessly of her time and energy to support and develop the University and its students past and present, and her legacy will continue to shape the lives of many for years to come.
It is a great pleasure to present Christine Thompson for admission as a Fellow of the University of Wollongong.