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Deakin Graduands urged to "stay hungry, stay foolish, ask questions, insistently, always"

9 October 2012

Former Justice of the High Court and Adjunct Professor at Deakin University, the Honourable Michael Kirby AC, CMG encouraged Deakin University graduands and the incoming new Justice of the High Court of Australia, Justice Stephen Gageler to heed the message of Apple founder Steve Jobs - “stay hungry, stay foolish, ask questions, insistently, always” .

Professor Kirby's encouragement was offered during the University's Graduation Ceremony at which he was awarded an honorary doctorate - Doctor of Laws (honoris causa) - in recognition of distinguished services to the Australian community.

Deakin University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Jane den Hollander, said Australia has benefited from Michael Kirby’s visionary intellectual leadership in many fields.

“Notably, he is a longstanding supporter of public education, and has made significant contributions to many universities here and overseas,” she said.

“He has long been a supporter of Deakin’s School of Law and was appointed an Adjunct Professor to Deakin’s Law School in 2009; he has been an inspiration to students and staff.’’

Significantly at the same time as Professor Kirby was talking to the students, Justice Gageler was being welcomed to the High Court.

“His ascent to high office, along a path that began at Muswellbrook High School in New South Wales, is an inspiration and an encouragement to all Australians,” Professor Kirby said.

“It is a tribute to him, his family and particularly his teachers in public schools.

“I hope, and expect, that he will never shake off the central values of egalitarian democracy, secularism and inclusiveness that public education instils in pupils throughout this continental country.”

Professor Kirby said graduates should be proud to receive a degree which carried the famous name – Deakin.

“Although a successful politician, Deakin was in many ways an outsider,” he said illustrating the statement with details of Deakin’s life.

“He was always ready to think outside the square,” Professor Kirby said.

“He was the most impressive of the fathers of Australian Federation.

“May Deakin’s example, including his outsider qualities, be with Justice Gageler and with us all in our lives ahead.”

Professor Kirby quoted American legal philosopher, Martha Nussbaum to describe the qualities exhibited by outsiders.

“It is outsiders who have learned the way that insiders work,” he said.

“It is they who encourage critical thinking.

“They question the unquestionable and help society, including in law and business, to think new thoughts and to dream new dreams.”

Professor Kirby honoured the message of Steve Jobs, “the supreme outsider”, which was delivered at the conferral of Jobs’ own honorary doctorate by Stanford University.

“Jobs told the graduates at Stanford: “Stay hungry, stay foolish”,” he said.

“By this he was saying, keep sharp the cutting edge of your minds.

“Sometimes do the unexpected.

“Make a difference.

“Ask questions.

“Demand answers.

“I cannot think of better advice for a graduating class of an Australian University.

“Come to think of it, I cannot imagine better advice, affectionately tendered, to the new Justice of the High Court of Australia, as he takes his seat today.”

News facts
  • Former Justice of the High Court and Adjunct Professor at Deakin University, the Honourable Michael Kirby AC, CMG awarded honorary doctorate by Deakin University
  • Graduates urged to "stay hungry, stay foolish, ask questions, insistently, always”
  • May Deakin’s example, including his outsider qualities, be with Justice Gageler and with us all in our lives ahead.

Media contact

Sandra Kingston
Deakin Media Relations
03 9246 8221/ 0422 005 485
sandra.kingston@deakin.edu.au

Listen to Dr Michael Kirby's address to Deakin graduands

Michael Kirby

Adjunct Professor and former Justice of the High Court, Michael Kirby AC, CMG has been awarded an honorary doctorate by Deakin University. Photo: Marcus Mok

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9th October 2012