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Dr David Gruen

Honorary Doctor of Science

Citation delivered by Professor Alex Frino, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Global Strategy) at the University of Wollongong on the occasion of the admission of David Gruen as a Doctor of Science (honoris causa) on 21 July 2017.


Deputy Chancellor, I present David Gruen.

As we celebrate the academic achievement of the graduates assembled here today, it is important that we reflect upon and acclaim the contribution of those who give of themselves – their intellect, their acumen and their energy – for the benefit of others; and so today we honour David Gruen for his outstanding scholarship, commitment to Australian public policy in the field of economics, and as an author, academic and commentator.

Born in Sydney in 1954, the son of a World War II refugee, David’s intellect and drive saw him achieve Dux of Haileybury College in 1971 and be awarded a Victorian Government Senior Scholarship. In the ensuing years, his outstanding scholarship was recognised in the award of a Shell (Australia) Postgraduate Scholarship in Science and Engineering in 1975, a Queen Elizabeth II Fellowship in 1982, and a PhD Scholarship from the Australian National University in 1986. With financial support from a Fulbright Postdoctoral Fellowship, he held a visiting lecturer position from 1991 to 1993 at Princeton University in the Economics Department and the Woodrow Wilson School.

David’s stellar career as an economist started later than most of his contemporaries in the field. While he took a minor in probability theory and statistics in his BSc studies at Monash University, his early interest lay in science which he avidly pursued, attaining a PhD in physiology from Cambridge University in 1980 and going on to a career as a research scientist.

At the age of 29 however, David switched to the discipline of economics after coming to the realisation that his father, the late Professor Fred Gruen – eminent agricultural economist and adviser to former Labor Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam – led a more ‘interesting life than many other people’. This career change saw him undertake further studies at ANU and complete his second PhD in 1991.

A PhD in Economics wasn’t the only “prize” he attained at ANU, however, as it was there that he met the woman who was to become his wife, Jenny Wilkinson – a respected economist in her own right.

David went on to hold a range of positions in Economic Research and Economic Analysis departments with the Reserve Bank of Australia including that of Head of the Economic Research Department from 1998 to 2002. In 2003, David joined Australian Treasury where, in the short space of five years, he was appointed to the very senior role of Executive Director (Domestic) in the macroeconomic group. He worked at Treasury for 13 years before taking up his current position of Deputy Secretary (Economic) and G20 Sherpa with the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Unlike many of his contemporaries at the Treasury, during his 13 years with the Department, David became well known for his public speaking. Indeed, his contributions across a broad spectrum of media and in public debate have broadened the understanding and examination of some of the key critical economic factors that drive our economy.

As a highly regarded economist and forecaster, David has been a member of many Reviews and Advisory Panels including the Review Panel into Australia's Superannuation System (the Cooper Review 2009-2010), the Australian Statistics Advisory Council from 2010 to 2014, the Advisory Panel for the Australian Government's, 'Australia in the Asian Century' White Paper in 2012 and the Australian Public Service Commission Capability Review into the then Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry in 2013.

Over the course of his career, David has engaged in teaching and research at Cambridge, Princeton and ANU. He is an Australian National University Public Policy Fellow and a panel member to select Fulbright scholars for the ACT/NT. David is also a current member of the Australia and New Zealand School of Government Research Committee, and the Committee for Economic Development of Australia Council on Economic Policy. During his career as a research scientist, David published 20 scientific articles in scholarly journals from 1977 to 1987, and since 1991 has published 84 articles on economics and economic policy, garnering 2,203 citations.

Since 2010, David has been an Honorary Fellow of the University of Wollongong Sydney Business School, contributing largely to the School’s Executive MBA program. Over the past seven years he has very generously donated his time to Executive MBA cohorts, inspiring students in all aspects of economics before they commence on their Executive MBA journey.

Deputy Chancellor, for his outstanding scholarship as an author, academic and commentator, his distinguished service to Australian public policy in the field of economics, and for his valued contribution to this University through his continuing support of students in the Sydney Business School, it is a privilege and pleasure to present David Gruen for a Doctor of Science, honoris causa.

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