Professor Emeritus The Right Honourable Sir Zelman Cowen AK QC

Award of Doctor of Laws honoris causa
Professor Emeritus The Right Honourable Sir Zelman Cowen AK QC

Mr Chancellor,

Also on this first occasion when the Mayne Hall is being used for a graduation ceremony, it is fitting that recognition should be given to the man who, more than any other, has made its completion possible. I therefore invite you, pursuant to a resolution of the Senate, to confer on the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Zelman Cowen, the degree of Doctor of Laws 'honoris causa'.

Professor Cowen came to this University in 1970. By that time he had achieved a most impressive record as student, scholar and administrator. His studies at the University of Melbourne were crowned by many prizes and awards, above all by his selection as Rhodes Scholar for Victoria in 1940. He went to Oxford in 1945, after five years war service with the Royal Australian Navy, and was appointed Vinerian Scholar and a Fellow of Oriel College, and later was awarded a Doctorate of Civil Law from the University of Oxford.

From 1951 to 1966, he was the Professor of Public Law and Dean of the Faculty of Law in the University of Melbourne. During that period he estalished an international reputation as a legal scholar through his books and articles in several areas of the law. This was marked by the invitations to be guest professor at Harvard Law School and at other distinguished American universities. It was marked also by his appointment as advisor on the establishment of legal education in Ghana, in Hong Kong and in the West Indies, and a dominion liaison officer to the British Colonial office. The University of Hong Kong honoured him with a Doctor of Laws 'honoris causa'. He was appointed a Queen's Counsel in 1972.

From 1967 to 1970, Professor Cowen was Vice-Chancellor of the University of New England. During that period he widened still further the scope of his public activities. He gave the A.B.C. Boyer lectures in 1969. He was a trustee of the Sydney Opera House and a member of many national and state organisations. He was, and still is, a member of the board of directors of the Australian Opera. For his services to the community and to the professions of education and law, he has been honoured by the Queen as Commander of the most distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George.

As the Chief Administrative Officer of this University since 1970, Professor Cowen has carried out with great distinction and dedication the highly responsible and onerous duties involved in the direction of a very large university which has expanded enormously over the past decade. He has continued also to manifest a deep interest in matters affecting the community generally, and above all in the relationship between the University and the community.

The University is delighted to award an honorary degree to one of its own members as a distinguished professor, administrator and citizen.

Mr Chancellor, I present to you Professor Zelman Cowen, Commander of the most distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George, Queen's Counsel, Master of Laws (Melbourne), Master of Arts, Doctor of Civil Law (Oxford), Honorary Doctor of Laws (Hong Kong), Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences of Australia, Fellow of the Australian College of Education, for admission to the degree of Doctor of Laws 'honoris causa'.

Honorary award citation


Doctor of Laws honoris causa