Sir John Philip Baxter KBE CMG FAA

Sir John Philip Baxter (who commonly went by his middle name, Philip), was a chemical engineer and university administrator. Born in Wales in 1905, he was raised and educated in England, where he entered the University of Birmingham at the age of 16. His early career was spent at Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) where he made major contributions to WWII nuclear weapons research and development in both Britain and the US.

In 1950, Sir Philip moved to Australia to work as a professor of chemical engineering at the New South Wales University of Technology (now UNSW). He became director of the university in 1953 before the title was changed to vice-chancellor in 1955. He remained in the role until 1969 and rapidly expanded the university during his tenure. In 1965 he was knighted, and in 1967 was awarded a Doctor of Science honoris causa from UQ.

Sir Philip was a strong advocate for nuclear power in Australia and was heavily involved in a number of organisations and projects, including the Australian Atomic Energy Commission, the International Atomic Energy Agency and the construction of the High Flux Australian Reactor (HIFAR).

Also passionate about the arts, Sir Philip’s efforts led to the establishment of the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) in 1958. He was also chairman of the Sydney Opera House Trust, which led to the opening of the landmark in 1973. Sir Philip died in 1989.


Doctor of Science honoris causa