Lynn Woodley

Fellow of the University of Wollongong

Citation Orated by Mr Harold Hanson AM

Chancellor, I present Lynn Woodley.

It is fitting that, as the University of Wollongong approaches 40 years of autonomy and self determination, we reflect on the people who have been with us from the very start, the remarkable individuals who were instrumental in setting up those early structures and whose vision and foresight was to lead to the University today being an integral part of the Illawarra and an internationally respected educational institution. Lynn Woodley is one of those extraordinary people that the University holds dear, and we are truly indebted to her enduring contribution.

A coal miner’s granddaughter and descendant of Irish convicts, Lynn was born in Wollongong and was the first in her family to attend University. She completed a Bachelor of Arts at Wollongong University College (then a part of the University of NSW) majoring in Arts and History in 1971, followed by Honours in English Literature at the University of Sydney in 1972. After a brief flirtation with high school teaching and part-time tutoring at the College, she answered an advertisement to join Registrar Ron Stewarts’s team to help the fledgling College prepare for transition to an autonomous university in 1975.

When she commenced in 1973, Lynn was the first female administrative officer employed by the College and, in a bend of the rules quite unusual at the time, had to be classified as a “male clerk”, so that she could receive the same pay as her male colleagues. In this role, Lynn helped write the policies and course rules for the first degrees offered by the University and even wrote the script for a documentary about the University that won a Penguin Award. In one of Lynn’s famous literary analogies, she described herself in this task as feeling like ‘Sam Gamgee at the Council of Elrond’.

We are fortunate that despite her initial trepidation, Lynn would go on to achieve and lead in a variety of roles across the University, serving as the Executive Officer to the first Vice Chancellor, the Manager, Secretariat and the Executive Manager, Strategic Planning & Quality Office (to name but a few). As the Executive Officer to the University Council for 18 years, Lynn was the beacon in a storm of change. She helped steer the University through its first AUQA Audit in 2005 and played a leading role in establishing many of the University’s quality improvement systems. Lynn was part of a small team that oversaw the development of the Innovation Campus in its formative years and was instrumental in the development and establishment of various University Strategic initiatives.

As architect of the University’s strategic plans, drafter of the Council minutes and writer of numerous speeches for Chancellors, Vice Chancellors and members of the Senior Executive, Lynn has chronicled the life and times of the University over its 40 year history. It is rare that we encounter someone with Lynn’s generous disposition and grace, whose capacity to effect change was tempered by her loyalty to her colleagues and the importance she placed on listening to those around her. During her time at UOW, Lynn was a steadfast source of support and counsel for many members of the University community and remains so to this day.

Lynn takes great joy in her children, Clare and Patrick, who have grown up with UOW, attending Kids Uni and working and studying here on campus. Like all people wise and wonderful, Lynn credits one of her major achievements as being appreciated by her family. Now that Lynn has retired from University life, she has more time for family adventures and to indulge in her love of travel with her husband, Colin. However, we are still calling on Lynn’s skills and expertise to conduct reviews, advice on teaching and learning issues and even to write citations in her spare time.

Lynn also sees one of her achievements as being fortunate to have played a pivotal role in ‘the wonderfully diverse Wollongong community’. She is a fiercely loyal supporter and advocate for the University that awakened in her a ‘world of ideas, fine words and companionship’. The history of UOW and Lynn’s life have been intertwined for over four decades and as we draw closer to celebrating the 40 year anniversary of our autonomy, it is important that we recognise those whose prodigious output and willingness to share knowledge over this time have been such a source of great success for this University.

Helen Keller once said that true happiness: “…is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose”. Lynn’s strength of purpose in supporting the University and her enjoyment of her life and work are an example to us all.

Chancellor, for her exceptional service to the University of Wollongong and her outstanding contribution to sound governance, academic quality and strategic renewal, it is my honour and privilege to present Lynn Woodley for admission as a Fellow of the University of Wollongong.