Griffith’s doyen of political science, Professor Pat Weller, was quick to share the spotlight last night when Vice Chancellor, Professor Ian O’Connor, hosted a dinner in his honour at South Bank.
Addressing family, friends, colleagues and peers who gathered to pay tribute to an outstanding academic career that has spanned more than 40 years, he took the opportunity to highlight the contributions and collaborations of the 42 different authors who have worked with him during this time.
“Where many social scientists tend to work individually, my career has been shaped by working with other people,” he said.
“It makes the academic life a lot less lonely, and it has sent me off in directions I might never have taken. You start looking at things, doing things and thinking about things in completely different ways when you work with someone else.”
Director of the Centre for Governance and Public Policy, Professor Haig Patapan, announced the Pat Weller Prize at last night’s function, to be awarded each year to the best first year student from the Introduction to Politics course.
Professor Weller completed a doctorate in political science at the Australian National University in 1972, building his early academic career in Canberra before his move to Queensland during mid-1980s to be Griffith’s Foundation Professor of Politics and Public Policy.
His passion for politics, public policy and institutions of government has been built on strong, enduring, often robust relationships and exchanges with government officials and public servants, a dynamic that remains vital to the discipline of political science, he believes.
“It continues to be a means of understanding the world of politics. I always talk to practitioners and while it informs my work, I hope it also provides them with insight, information and knowledge they can use.
“If you’re going to talk to government officials and public servants, you have to do it from a position of credibility, and for me this comes in the form of published work.”
Professor Weller is the author of 39 books including two publications on Prime Ministers, First Among Equals (1985) and Malcolm Fraser: Portrait of a Prime Minister (1989).
His most recent ARC Discovery Grant (for $269,392) sees him investigating why some Prime Ministers fail and others succeed, due to be completed in 2015.
He has held numerous public positions including chair of the Queensland Corrective Services Commission from 1994-96 and being a member of the Prime Minister’s task force on Australian Public Service reform in 2009.
He was the inaugural director of the Centre for Australian Public Sector Management at Griffith University in 1988 and during 30 years at the University, his roles have included Head of Department, Centre Director, Dean, and Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research).
He is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Science and an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO).
Professor Weller was front and centre and in his political element again today at a workshop on The Craft of Governing, hosted by the Centre for Governance and Public Policy at the Samuel Griffith Centre on Nathan campus.