Pauline Lysaght

Fellow of the University of Wollongong

Citation orated by Mr Harold Hanson AM

Chancellor, I present Pauline Lysaght.

Pauline Lysaght’s story calls to mind Anne Frank’s words: “how great, difficult, but ultimately beautiful women’s share in society is.” In the face of difficulty and sorrow, Pauline has always helped others to shine. Her achievements come from a singular ability to initiate, organise and advocate. The beauty of her “share in society” lies in her thoughtfulness, her sense of fun and her compassion. Pauline’s genuine passion for helping others has ranged from a quiet word of support to colleagues right through to enabling children from other countries and communities to see the world in new, exciting ways. She has made a very special contribution to this University and to the community.

Pauline was born in England and completed her schooling in Australia. It is highly likely that her characteristic sense of style and presentation was nurtured by her early training and experience as a secretary. Entering University as a mature-aged student, however, she gained a perspective and understanding of how exciting but overwhelming that experience can be. She learned the importance of kindness and support. It was a lesson she applied throughout her academic career.

A proud University of Wollongong graduate, Pauline holds a Bachelor of Arts degree, a Master of Education and a Doctor of Education. She became a lecturer in the University’s Faculty of Education in 2001 and was appointed as Sub Dean the very next year. This perceptive decision recognised what the Faculty describes as her “keen awareness of the need to offer a supportive and positive outcome focus for the students under her care”. Students across the University were to benefit from Pauline’s skill and consideration, when she later understudied the role of Dean of Students and eventually became the inaugural Student Ombudsman. Her insights into the student experience brought about improvement in process and perspective. Working with students also brought her great joy.

Her commitment to helping others find and use their “voice” is a recurring theme in Pauline’s career as teacher, scholar and reformer. It is present in her work with students, her research and her collaboration with colleagues. It particularly defines her leadership of outreach initiatives and programs.

Pauline championed broader access to a University education for a range of disadvantaged groups. She had a key role in the introduction of the UStart@UOW, which aims to support ‘first in family’ students in their transition to university and give them a sense of belonging. As the Associate Dean, Engagement and Development, she drove her Faculty’s outreach and inclusion agenda, designing and implementing a range of programs across the community that aligned with UOW’s equity, diversity and social inclusion goals. Pauline had an active monitoring role in UOW initiatives such as the Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME) and homework/learning centres. She promoted the Djinggi program, jointly administered by the NSW Department of Education and Training, TAFE NSW and UOW, which opens up pathways from a School-based Traineeship into the University’s Bachelor of Education program as well as other career options.

That passion for fairness, innovation and outcomes infuses Pauline’s academic achievements. Her research draws particularly on the field of narrative enquiry and, aptly, the use of ‘voice’. She has worked with colleagues on an international project that draws on the words and images of children as they represent their daily lives. This unique project aims to create links between children in Australia, often representing particular cultural backgrounds, with their originating country. In 2008 and 2009 Pauline was awarded the Vice Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Community Engagement in the Team Category for her work on the “Voices of Children” project.

Pauline’s own voice has provided generous and prudent advice to her colleagues and in many forums, including the celebrated, problem-solving coffee meetings with her colleagues at the “Table of Nonsense”. As part of her engagement with schools, she became a foundation member of the UOW Committee of Cooperation with the NSW Department of Education and Communities. She was also a member of the University’s Academic Senate and other bodies overseeing the delivery of UOW’s learning and teaching goals.

As the finale to her academic career, Pauline Lysaght accepted a role that gives crowning expression to her commitment to empowering children and communities through access to education: to giving them a “voice”. As Associate Director, Pauline’s leadership skills facilitated the launch of the Early Start Facility with its Discovery Space (Australia’s first Children’s Museum) as the most sophisticated early childhood teaching, research and community engagement initiative in Australia. She has helped to shape the outreach model that focuses on children from regional, rural, remote and disadvantaged communities. An accomplished seamstress who delights in fabric design, Pauline even took a hands-on role in giving the Discovery Space the look that is crucial to its success.

Chancellor, Pauline Lysaght is a highly respected academic leader, teacher and researcher and a treasured colleague. She has led significant projects and initiatives that have shaped the University’s and the community’s future and enriched their culture. Above all, Pauline has a great heart. It is my great pleasure to present Pauline Lysaght for admission as a Fellow of the University of Wollongong.