News

07 June 2017

QUT Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Coaldrake AO has been named a Queensland Great after receiving the prestigious accolade from Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

The Queensland Greats Awards recognise the efforts and achievements of extraordinary Queenslanders for their remarkable contribution to the history and development of the state.

Queensland Greats are honoured with commemorative plaques displayed at Roma Street Parkland, Brisbane.

Professor Coaldrake was recognised for his influence and contribution across the Queensland community and his role in helping turn Brisbane into an international creative hub for education, innovation and knowledge.

Currently the longest serving incumbent Vice-Chancellor in Australia, Professor Coaldrake has led QUT since 2003.

QUT Chancellor Tim Fairfax AC said Professor Coaldrake was a prominent national and international university leader who was widely recognised and respected for his ability to unite and lead people to bring about change.

“His academic and professional work has been underscored by a commitment to equitable access to higher education. He is someone with a firm belief in reciprocity, that it is incumbent on those with privilege to give something back,” he said. 

“QUT has been transformed under Professor Coaldrake’s leadership while maintaining high levels of staff satisfaction and staff giving to philanthropy. It is testament to his ability to combine clear vision and decision-making with care and respect for others.”

Professor Coaldrake’s views on the importance of education grew from his own life experience. He spent his early childhood in a remote Aboriginal settlement in the Kimberleys, and his teen years in the central western township of Aramac, from where he travelled to boarding school in Charters Towers. 

But it was his labouring jobs during his university years, at meatworks in Townsville and at the Moura mine, that were perhaps the most important influencers on his views about the transformational impact of education on a person’s potential life and career. 

During the course of his QUT career, he has been a driving force in creating opportunities for students to attend university from low SES, Indigenous, and rural and remote backgrounds.

Professor Coaldrake has overseen and nurtured the development of QUT’s Learning Potential Fund, which provides scholarships and bursaries for students who display academic potential but may not have the financial means to attend university. The Fund has delivered more than 15,000 student scholarships and bursaries and QUT’s staff giving program is among the most successful in Australia.

Under his leadership, QUT has also become a major bridge between Queensland and the global knowledge economy, featuring prominently in international university rankings. QUT has revenue in 2017 of some $1 billion, and welcomes some 50,000 students, nearly 8,000 of whom come from overseas.

One of Professor Coaldrake’s key achievements has been revitalising and transforming QUT’s Kelvin Grove and Gardens Point campuses through ambitious, world-class infrastructure projects. His vision was instrumental in establishing QUT’s $230 million Science and Engineering Centre, which opened in 2013 with the aim of embracing the digital revolution through greater student uptake in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

Projects such as the restoration of Old Government House (which now houses the William Robinson Gallery) and a state-of-the-art Creative Industries complex at Kelvin Grove have also occurred under his stewardship.

In 2011, Professor Coaldrake was admitted as an Officer of the Order of Australia for "distinguished service to higher education".

Before joining QUT, Professor Coaldrake was Chair of Queensland’s Public Sector Management Commission, leading major reforms to modernise and professionalise Queensland’s public service.

In 2009 he chaired Queensland’s sesquicentenary celebrations, the centrepiece activity of which was the Q150 Steam Train which travelled across the State and visited more than 30 communities.

At an international level, Professor Coaldrake chaired the OECD’s higher education advisory body (IMHE) for five years to the end of 2015 and, at the national level, he chaired Universities Australia, the peak body of Australia’s universities, between 2009 and 2011. Other Queensland-related cultural, educational and government bodies and committees he has served include the following:

  • Trustee of the Queensland Performing Arts Trust, October 2016 -
  • Chair, Queensland Heritage Council, 2011 - 2016
  • Reviewer, Functions of the Integrity Commissioner (Qld), 2015
  • Member of the Q20 committee to prepare for the 2014 G20 meeting
  • Chair, Screen Queensland, 2009 - 2011
  • Trustee, Queensland Museum Foundation, 2009 -
  • Chair, Australian Prostate Cancer Research Centre (QUT-based), 2009 - 2012
  • Appointed Smart State Ambassador, 2006
  • Member, Board of Trustees, Brisbane Girls Grammar School, 2003 - 2006

Media contact:
Rose Trapnell, QUT Media, 0407 585 901, media@qut.edu.au

QUT Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Coaldrake has been named a Queensland Great.