20 September 2012

Professor David Gardiner's place in QUT's history is secure, says QUT Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Coaldrake, of the highly regarded former deputy vice-chancellor, who passed away this week.

"Respected and admired across the higher education sector, Professor David Gardiner made a unique contribution to legal education and the development of professional legal practice in Australia, to institution-building at QUT, and to the Australian university community," Professor Coaldrake said.

"Professor Gardiner made his mark in an outstanding way as a practitioner in his field, teacher, scholar, and senior university executive over a career that spanned 30 years."

Professor Gardiner was recognised in 2010 as a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for his exceptional service to university administration, legal education, and a range of professional associations.

He was a foundation member of the QUT Law School and a former QUT dean of law and in 2009 QUT awarded him an honorary doctorate for his contribution to QUT and the Australian higher education sector.

Professor Gardiner retired, due to illness, from the university and his deputy vice-chancellorship in the same year.

Originally from Sydney, the much-loved QUT executive began his distinguished career after completing university studies in Arts and Law at the University of Sydney.

After his admission as a barrister of the Supreme Court of New South Wales and of the High Court of Australia, David Gardiner practised law and, as a young barrister, worked with Sir Maurice Byers QC, Solicitor-General for the Commonwealth, on constitutional challenges in the High Court of Australia during the period of the Whitlam Government.

In 1976, keen to pursue an academic career, he joined the Queensland Institute of Technology as a foundation member of the Law School and quickly established a reputation as an inspirational teacher and curriculum innovator.

Professor Gardiner was appointed Dean of the Faculty of Law in 1989 and during his tenure the Faculty came to be considered as one of the best in Australia in terms of its applied and professional strengths.

He is widely acknowledged as one of the first legal academics to recognise the importance of the use of multi-media technology in teaching law.

He also had significant impact on the national community of legal scholars through his leadership of the Australasian Law Teachers' Association, and in his editorship roles of influential legal professional publications.

During this period, Professor Gardiner demonstrated his outstanding capacity for leadership at the university level and in 1996 was appointed Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Planning and Resources).

With a reputation for implementing wide-scale reforms and improvements across the university, Professor Gardiner was appointed Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research and Advancement) in 2001 where he initiated changes to enhance and accelerate QUT's performance in research, commercialisation, fundraising and internationalisation.

In 2003, Professor Gardiner was appointed Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic).

"QUT benefitted enormously from David's intellectual power, his enormous enthusiasm for higher education and our students, and his ability to achieve good outcomes in this role," Professor Coaldrake said.

"Beyond QUT, his contributions across the sector were sustained, wide-ranging and extremely valuable.

"Examples are his work with the Australian Learning and Teaching Council standing committee on Leadership for Excellence and, as a member of the National Diploma Supplement Consortium steering committee, his participation in the conceptualisation of the ePortfolio project, which pioneered the online recording of projects and resumes by staff and students."

Professor Coaldrake said Professor Gardiner had made a tremendous contribution to QUT and had demonstrated great vision, energy and a particular ability to motivate and lead others.

"He was a great friend and colleague and was much loved across the university community. He enjoyed unique standing here.

"David was a pillar of QUT. We loved him, and his place in this organisation's history is secure," Professor Coaldrake said.

Professor Gardiner died peacefully in Brisbane on Sunday, September 16, 2012, after a long illness. He was aged 63. He is survived by his wife Susan, his children Benjamin, Sarah and Simon, and his grandchildren Archer and Oscar.

David Gardiner AM