After 33 years at
Monash, vice-chancellor Professor Peter Darvall was given a warm farewell by the
University Council and colleagues at the Monash staff club last week.
Professor Richard Larkins takes up his role at Monash on Monday 1 September.
At the farewell Chancellor Mr Jerry
Ellis unveiled a portrait of Professor Darvall, which will be hung in the Robert
Blackwood Hall, and presented him with a gift of a ride-on lawnmower on behalf
of the university.
He started his
academic career as a tutor in the Engineering faculty, rising through the ranks
to dean, then deputy vice-chancellor, and, finally to vice-chancellor.
Mr Ellis confirmed
that Professor Darvall had accepted the title of professor emeritus to maintain
his connection with Monash after his retirement.
More than 160 people
at the farewell heard Professor Darvall speak of his main achievements at Monash
and the people who had shaped his career.
research are very satisfying, and I am glad to have chosen the life of an
academic. Just as satisfying is joining other people in making things happen and
facilitating the work of stars in many fields, many of whom are here tonight.
“I could talk about
Monash for a long time – and often do. Suffice to say that it is special not
because it is the largest Australian university but because of its energy and
A televised lecture (1972)
said he had known all the chancellors in Monash’s history except the first,
all the vice-chancellors and deputy and pro vice-chancellors, all the deans
except two, and almost all Council members, since he was himself elected to
Council in 1971.
He elaborated on a
long list of researchers who he had worked with to establish Monash as a premier
research institution in fields including accident research, IVF technology, stem
cell science, education, green chemistry, nanotechnology, Asian studies and
population and urban research.
Mr Ellis described
Professor Darvall as a great friend of Monash.
“He is a man of wit
used kindly, a man of wisdom used wisely, a man of strength …and an engineer.
Many Monash people know Peter as a friend,” Mr Ellis said.
At the lectern (1988)
demands of office – including his 15 years as a dean, deputy vice-chancellor
or vice-chancellor – Peter has always been widely involved in the broad Monash
community where he listens and is prepared to share his views and to do that
with everyone with whom he comes in contact.”
He noted that
Professor Darvall’s short time as vice-chancellor had included many
achievements, often under difficult circumstances.
“It was a great
gift to Monash that we had someone prepared to do this job, which was not an
easy one, for a short period of time and to do it wholeheartedly with great
grace and goodwill,” he said.
were immense. Firstly, calming the ruffled waters of earlier times, dealing with
the tragic shooting, maintaining the many reforms we had under way in
accounting, lifting our research performance and improving the quality generally
across the university, and dealing with the challenges of our many different
“Not only does
Peter have a wonderful wit and a great intelligence, but he also has an enormous
knowledge of this organisation. He is interested in the history of this place
and he is keenly attuned to its future directions and challenges.”
hoped his successor, Professor Richard Larkins, would enjoy as rewarding a time
at Monash as he had.
“Richard, I wish
you every success in this weird and wonderful, spirited university. It will be
your privilege to work with many exceptional people.”
With fourth year civil engineering students before the grand
Concrete Canoe Race (1985)
Pictures are courtesy of Monash University Archives