Lynne Williams

Honorary Doctor of Letters

Citation delivered by Professor Amanda Lawson, Executive Dean of the Faculty of the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities at the University of Wollongong on the occasion of the admission of Lynette Frances Williams as a Doctor of Letters (honoris causa) on 15 December 2014.


Deputy Chancellor, I present Lynne Williams.

You are here today, poised for the first step into a world of opportunities, but it is not merely your educational qualifications that will hold you in good stead in the years to come. It is the passion for life and learning that has been brought to the forefront during your degree that will enable you to make the most of those opportunities. Lynne Williams is a University of Wollongong alumna who has seized opportunities that were presented to her – or, sometimes, created them for herself; a woman whose ambition, determination and passion for living a creative life is a powerful demonstration of how to take hold of the moment and lead.

Born in Wollongong, Lynne grew up in Porter Street and, after graduating from Wollongong High School, studied at the Wollongong Teachers College for her NSW Teachers Certificate. In 1977, Lynne was awarded a Diploma of the State Conservatorium of Music (NSW), majoring in vocal studies, and it was also at this time that her career with UOW began, as an education lecturer. During this period, passionate about opera and theatre, Lynne recognised a gap in the budding musical community of the Illawarra and was instrumental in founding the Conservatorium Theatre Company in Wollongong, and made a significant contribution to establishing a new School of Creative Arts at UOW. Lynne was to later complete a Master of Arts (Honours) at this University.

Travelling to Britain in 1985 for what was meant to be a 12 month ‘research trip’, Lynne was to spend the next 21 years there pursuing her career in a variety of leadership roles, including Director of Performing Arts for the East of England and the Artistic Director and CEO of the Eastern Touring Agency. She was also responsible for developing the four-year culture and education program leading up to and including the London Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012, testament to her ability to devise, produce and empower others in creative enterprises of all kinds. Lynne’s efforts remind us of the importance of appreciating the contribution that the arts make to communities and as well as to national identities, and of valuing creativity and culture as prime elements of society.

Lynne returned to Australia several years ago, and was appointed Director and CEO of the internationally renowned National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) in 2008. There she has driven transformative change and established new creative industry and other partnerships for NIDA. Former Chair of NIDA and a mentor to Lynne, Malcolm Long AM, describes her as a visionary leader, whose strategic management has successfully steered NIDA through tumultuous periods of change in the performance and entertainment industries. Lynne’s commitment to a collaborative approach and her cultural leadership have brought renewal and new achievements to NIDA. Under her direction, NIDA has diversified and grown its course offerings, with work now underway to build a new Graduate School. Here at UOW, we have one of the only practice based performance programs in the country, a legacy of Lynne’s time here. It is a program that provides us with connections to NIDA that we hold very dear and celebrate particularly today.

As a teacher and mentor, Lynne Williams is an educator whose ethos is imbued with passion, warmth and enthusiasm, and we at UOW are proud that we may call her one of our own. Lynne is a role model for our students to aspire to, no matter what discipline they have studied.

Deputy Chancellor, for her scholarship, her service to creative arts at the University of Wollongong and to the Australian and international arts industry, and for her dedication to broadening access to contemporary arts, it is my privilege to present Lynne Williams for a Doctor of Letters, honoris causa.