Pat Farrar

Fellow of the University of Wollongong


Citation orated by Mr Harold Hanson AM

Chancellor, I present Pat Farrar.

Pat Farrar is a generous man with a deep respect for the dignity of the common person. Pat comes from the best of Australia’ Irish Catholic tradition with its hard work, love of story and deep sense of social justice. His has made a quiet yet profound contribution to the University and to many people and communities.

When he looked back on his career, Pat Farrar recently recalled the words of the poet, Robert Frost: “Two roads converged in a wood, and I…. took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference.” Yet before that fork in the road, Pat travelled a more familiar path and still made a difference to the lives of others. Pat was born in Cowra, NSW and attended secondary school at Marist Brothers College in Forbes. Winning a Teachers College Scholarship was a catalyst which not only took him into a teaching career but also brought Pat, eventually, to the University of Wollongong and to unexpected turnings.

For over 10 years, Pat taught in high schools in the country areas which had shaped his own down-to-earth, open personality. After completing an Honours degree in Arts in the early 1970s, he was appointed as a lecturer at Wollongong Teachers’ College which then became Wollongong Institute of Education. After the amalgamation of the Institute and the University, Pat moved into the Faculty of Education where he lectured for over two decades of challenge and change in UOW’s history. Always approachable, he delighted in sharing his passion for children’s literature and literacy with his students. Significantly, he also felt privileged and fulfilled to support and mentor students during practice teaching visits in Fiji. A “teacher’s teacher”, Pat played a part in developing the University’s strong reputation for teaching quality and collegiality.

Pat Farrar is an advocate for lifelong learning and for welcoming new experiences. When he “officially” retired in the early 2000s, Pat came to that fork in the road and decided to turn along the “road less travelled”. With Liz, his wife and inspiration, Pat became an Australian Business Volunteer with AusAID, firstly in Western Samoa and then in Laos where he worked with diplomats and public servants at the Institute of Foreign Affairs to improve their English.

In 2009, Pat and Liz become Indigenous Community Volunteers, which led to their participation in three “Blank Page Summits” as guests of the Traditional Owners. The Summits involved Indigenous people from all around Australia together with politicians, senior government officials and public servants who worked together to examine key issues such as suicide prevention, health, social justice and education.

Fifteen years ago, Pat Farrar joined the Illawarra Committee for International Students. He went on to become one of its driving forces. Funded by the University, the Committee has helped international students for over 35 years to learn about Australia’s language and culture and, in their words, to “have fun, make friends and to interact with members of the local Illawarra community”. Pat Farrar was President when the Illawarra Committee for International Students won the inaugural NSW International Student Award for Community Engagement (Education Provider) at the Opera House in September 2014. He was proud and typically humbled by the occasion.

Pat is a stalwart at Committee barbeques and picnics but it is the weekly Conversation Classes, where he shares his love of books and the English language, that are particularly dear to his heart. He delights in meeting new friends from around the world and they have responded to his kindness and dedication by involving him and Liz in their lives and achievements. In 2011, the Illawarra Committee for International Students received the Chancellor’s Award for Voluntary Contributions to the University, under Pat’s leadership.

Chancellor, a University leader has described Pat Farrar as “an outstanding member of academic staff who was regarded by his peers and students as amongst the best of lecturers”. Pat has used those skills and his empathy with others to become a valued mentor here and overseas. His contribution to the University’s standing with international students is immeasurable. One of them writes of the impact he has made: “I can see many students feeling there is a “home” to return to at the University. Pat is one of the most selfless people I have ever met. I admire him both as a lecturer and a friend I still have lots to learn from him”.

To sum up the ‘Pat Farrar way’, we turn again to the words of Robert Frost: “I talk in order to understand; I teach in order to learn”.

Chancellor, it is an honour and a privilege to present Patrick Francis Farrar for admission as a Fellow of the University of Wollongong.