Professor Bill Lovegrove at Nan Tien Temple

Vale, Bill Lovegrove AO (1945-2022)

Vale, Bill Lovegrove AO (1945-2022)

UOW remembers its former Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research) and Head of School of Psychology, Emeritus Professor Bill Lovegrove AO, who died aged 77

A women’s rights advocate, a curious intellectual, a good-natured mentor, a fit runner (member of the Illawarra Triathlon Club) and a devoted family man – there aren’t enough labels to describe the late Emeritus Professor Bill Lovegrove.

His recent passing has left many heartbroken, but his legacy will surely live on.

At the University of Wollongong (UOW), Emeritus Professor Lovegrove served as Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research and International) from 1992 to 1998, moving on from his role as Professor of Psychology at UOW’s School of Psychology. In 1999, he received Emeritus Professorship.

One of 11 kids, Professor Lovegrove grew up in a small, sleepy suburb on Brisbane’s southwestern outskirts, created by the Queensland Housing Commission. As a self-proclaimed ‘natural student’, his academic career started early and was long and accomplished. Soon after being awarded his PhD from the University of Queensland in 1973, he went to teach psychology at the University of Tasmania, where he stayed for 13 years. 

After leaving UOW, Professor Lovegrove was drawn back to Queensland, where he served as Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Griffith University, and then Vice-Chancellor at the University of Southern Queensland. In Queensland, he became a white ribbon ambassador, highlighting domestic violence, mostly against women. 

In 2017, Emeritus Professor Lovegrove was made an Officer in the General Division of the Order of Australia (AO) for his service to leadership in tertiary education, developing academia in regional areas and contributing to cooperative research in various fields.

The same year, he was appointed President of the Nan Tien Institute (NTI), a higher education provider focusing on personal development in Buddhism, health and social wellbeing, mental health and mindfulness. Professor Lovegrove was very proud of the institute’s achievements. To this day, NTI is the only place in Australia where it is possible to get a degree in Applied Buddhist Studies.

Although he refused the label of a Buddhist, Professor Lovegrove called himself “a fellow traveller” with his Buddhist colleagues and practised a combination of mindfulness and compassion meditation.

The Head of UOW’s School of Psychology, Professor Peter Caputi, remembered Emeritus Professor Lovegrove as someone who was intellectually curious, very generous with his time and very approachable, modest and kind in his way of being.

“Even after leaving the School of Psychology, as Emeritus Professor, Bill continued to engage with our work. He supervised students, collaborated with colleagues. His curious mind and a personable character meant that he was great with people, a natural leader,” Professor Caputi said.

One of Professor Lovegrove’s long-standing School of Psychology colleagues was Associate Professor Steven Roodenrys.

“His PhD research was devoted to basic visual perceptual processes, but he was best known as an excellent, engaging researcher who worked on identifying why some people with dyslexia may have reading difficulties. He was always committed to finding the truth. My memory of Professor Lovegrove is that he was always deeply interested in other people’s thoughts and ideas, which made him an excellent mentor,” Associate Professor Roodenrys said.

Our thoughts are with his family and friends during this difficult time.