Experts in their field

From left to right: Vice Chancellor and President Professor Ian O'Connor AC, Professor Peter Coaldrake AO DUniv and Deputy Vice Chancellor (Engagement) Professor Martin Betts.

Griffith alumni came together last week for the University’s PhD and Doctorate reunion, commemorating 40 years of PhDs at Griffith and 70 years of PhDs in Australia.

The Brisbane event brought together PhD and Higher Degree Research (HDR) alumni to celebrate the University’s remarkable achievements and its growing status as a research institute.

Among the guests was Griffith University’s first PhD graduate, Professor Peter Coaldrake AO DUniv, who recalled academic life as a doctoral student at the University’s Nathan campus some 40 years ago.

“My time at Griffith was a very happy experience. It was a lovely two and a half years of my life,” he said.

“I had a great supervisor, Arthur Brownlea, who was diligent and gave me some really good advice. I wrote my PhD in about two and a half years and finished it just before Christmas day. I showed Arthur the last three pages and he said, ‘it’s rubbish, you’re exhausted, go away, have a break and then come back after New Year and finish it.’ When I returned, I managed to work through some of the difficulties in my paper and thank Arthur for it, because we all know how important supervisors are and should be.”

After completing his PhD, Professor Coaldrake went on to have a long successful career and until recently was Vice Chancellor of Queensland University of Technology. He is also a dual Fulbright scholar, Order of Australia recipient, Queensland Great and author.

“I thank Griffith in all sorts of ways for the contribution and foundation it has given me in my life.”

From left to right: Professor Peter Coaldrake AO DUniv, Former Griffith University Chancellor Sir Allan Sewell ISO FIMA and Professor Geoffrey Dromey.

Since Professor Coaldrake’s inaugural PhD, there has been rapid growth in the number of PhDs at Griffith, with an average of 320 awarded per annum.

Griffith University’s Vice Chancellor and President Professor Ian O’Connor AC said he was proud of the University’s record and Griffith’s PhD and HDR alumni were proof of its achievements.

“Last year, the University launched its HDR reconnect campaign to enhance our engagement with our HDR alumni. The outcomes have been very positive with many of you in the room tonight. We look forward to continuing our connections and hope you stay connected with the University long into the future,” he said.

As part of the HDR campaign, the University is surveying graduates to learn how it can enhance its research training and find out more about the achievements of its graduates.

Senior Deputy Vice Chancellor Professor Ned Pankhurst recently wrote an article in The Australian sharing the positive findings of the survey so far.

“Undertaking a PhD does not just provide a deep understanding of a particular discipline; it instils the ability to critically analyse complex issues and find new ways of looking at a problem and then to devise and implement solutions. These are essential skills in any workforce. Typically, our graduates reported that the experience of undertaking an HDR was important and professionally useful to them, irrespective of whether they subsequently worked within the field of their PhD discipline.”

HDR Reconnect Survey Results Update


PhD and doctoral alumni are encouraged to complete the HDR Reconnect online survey, which will close at the end of 2018. All participants will receive a one-year digital subscription to the University’s Griffith Review.