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27 April 2010
The degree of Doctor of Laws (honoris causa) will be conferred upon Professor Sally Walker in recognition of distinguished contribution to Deakin University, legal education and scholarship and higher education in general.
After completing secondary schooling at the Warrnambool High School and on a scholarship at the Melbourne Girls’ Grammar School, Professor Walker undertook a Bachelor of Laws degree at The University of Melbourne. Throughout her course she was a brilliant student. She graduated with First Class Honours and was awarded the Supreme Court Prize for being the top student in her year; she also received the Joan Rosanove Memorial Prize and the Anna Brennan Memorial Prize. Professor Walker was later awarded a Master of Laws degree, also from The University of Melbourne.
Professor Walker was an Articled Clerk at Gillotts in 1978–79 and then served as the Associate to Justice Aickin of the High Court of Australia. At the end of her term with His Honour, she returned to Gillotts and worked in private practice as a solicitor and later as an associate partner of that firm.
Professor Walker commenced her academic career in 1980 as a lecturer in the Faculty of Law at The University of Melbourne. She enjoyed a stellar career. She was promoted to senior lecturer in 1985, Reader in Law in 1992 and in 1993 was appointed as the Hearn Professor of Law. Whilst still teaching and conducting research in the Faculty of Law, Professor Walker began to assume wider responsibilities within the University. This saw her appointed as the Pro-Vice-Chancellor in 1997 and Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor in 2000. She also served as the President of the Academic Board in period 1999-2000.
Professor Walker became the Vice-Chancellor and President of Deakin University in January 2003. By any measure, her leadership of the University has been outstanding. It has seen the University grow in size, in reputation and in the scale and diversity of its activities. Deakin is now the tenth largest university in Australia, its total onshore enrolments having grown in recent years by more than those of any other Australian university. In the same period its academic staff numbers have increased to 1,400, its student related income has grown by over 100 per cent and demand for student places at Deakin has increased so significantly that in terms of VTAC first preferences, Deakin is now the third most popular university in Victoria. Regrettably, she has elected to resign as Vice-Chancellor and will leave the University early in July.
There have been many highlights during Professor Walker’s term as Vice-Chancellor. In program development, notable examples include the securing by Deakin University of Victoria’s third Medical School in 2006 and the opening of that School by Prime Minster Rudd in 2008. In research they include the establishment, in 2008, of the Institute for Technology Research and Innovation to combine fundamental and solutions-led research and in 2009, of the Alfred Deakin Research Institute to generate and promote research informing public debate and public policy. Responding to developments such as these and the significant increase in domestic and international student enrolments Deakin has experienced, Professor Walker ensured that the University undertook a commensurate building program. This saw the Geelong Technology Precinct open in 2004, the dramatic redevelopment and expansion of the central precinct and University Library on the Melbourne Campus at Burwood, the opening by the Governor of Victoria of the state-of-the-art International Centre and Business Building in 2008, the redevelopment of the Science building and University Library on the Geelong Campus at Waurn Ponds and in 2009, the formal opening of the of the Dennys Lascelles Building.
As Vice-Chancellor, Professor Walker played a leading role in promoting Deakin internationally. She was instrumental in forging links with India’s leading biotechnology company, Biocon, oversaw the expansion of research activity in India that led to the launch, in 2009, of the Deakin India Research Initiative by Jacinta Allen MHA, the Victorian Minister for Skills and Workforce Participation and in 2008, initiated the opening of Deakin’s office in China, thereby making it the first Australian university to do so.
During Professor Walker’s tenure as Vice-Chancellor, Deakin has received many honours including being awarded the Governor of Victoria’s Export Award for Education in 2008 and again 2009, and being recognised as an Employer of Choice for Women for the past five years. Professor Walker was also instrumental in establishing the Deakin Foundation in 2008. This is chaired by the former Premier of Victoria, the Honourable Steve Bracks. Initially, the Foundation is concentrating on securing support for Deakin’s Medical School and the educational initiatives of Deakin’s Institute of Koorie Education. Its establishment is a reflection of Professor Walker’s focus on planning for Deakin’s future and her commitment to strategic planning and quality assurance.
Professor Walker is the author of a number of major texts in the field of Media Law including the Law of Journalism in Australia and Media Law published in 2002. She was also the joint author (with Professor E I Sykes) of the 5th edition of The Law of Securities. Professor Walker has held many government and professional appointments. She has been a member of the Victorian Press Ownership Inquiry, has served on Law Council of Australia committees, was a member of the Board of the Communications and Media Law Association and was the first Academic Secretary of the Victorian Attorney-General’s Law Reform Advisory Council, a position she held from 1993–1995. Currently, she is the Chair of the Victorian Vice-Chancellor’s Committee, a member of the Felton Bequests Committee and a member of the Trustees for Old Grammarians Society – Gilman Jones Scholarship. In 2005, she received the Judges’ Award in the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Awards.
Professor Walker has been passionately committed to Deakin University. Her Vice-Chancellorship has been transformative of the institution and sees it well placed financially and educationally for the next phase of its development.