Professor Kenneth John Campbell Back AO

1983

CITATION

MR CHANCELLOR,

PROFESSOR BACK WAS BORN IN NEW SOUTH WALES AND GRADUATED BACHELOR OF SCIENCE FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY IN THAT STATE IN 1947, WITH A FIRST CLASS HONOURS DEGREE IN BIOCHEMISTRY. AFTER A COUPLE OF YEARS IN INDUSTRY AS A RESEARCH BACTERIOLOGIST HE RECOGNIZED THE VALUES OF QUEENSLAND AND ACCEPTED APPOINTMENT AS LECTURER IN BACTERIOLOGY AT THIS UNIVERSITY IN 1950. HE THEN COMPLETED THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF SCIENCE IN BIOCHEMISTRY AT THE UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY IN 1953, AFTER A YEAR SPENT AT THE UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD AS THE HOLDER OF A NUFFIELD DOMINION TRAVELLING FELLOWSHIP.

PROFESSOR BACK WAS AWARDED THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHIL­OSOPHY BY THE UNIVERSITY OF QUEENSLAND IN 1956, ONE OF THE FIRST TWENTY SUCH DEGREES AWARDED BY THIS UNIVERSITY, AND WAS PROMOTED IN THE SAME YEAR TO THE POSITION OF SENIOR LECTURER IN BACTERIOLOGY, A DEPARTMENT NOW CALLED MICROBIOLOGY. HE OCCUPIED THIS POSITION AT THE TIME OF HIS APPOINTMENT TO THE WARDENSHIP OF THE UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF TOWNSVILLE IN 1963. HE ACCEPTED THE VICE-CHANCELLORSHIP OF JAMES COOK UNIVERSITY OF NORTH QUEENSLAND WHEN THE UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF TOWNSVILLE BECAME INDEPENDENT FROM THIS INSTITUTION IN 1970.

PROFESSOR BACK'S ADMINISTRATIVE STRENGTHS WERE EVIDENCED IN THE SUCCESSFUL PLANNING AND NEGOTIATION WITH THE SENATE OF THIS UNI­VERSITY, THE AUSTRALIAN UNIVERSITIES COMMISSION AND THE QUEENSLAND GOVERNMENT TO ACHIEVE AUTONOMY FOR THE COLLEGE. IT IS INTERESTING TO RECALL THAT THESE DISCUSSIONS LEADING TO THE SETTING-UP OF JAMES COOK UNIVERSITY OF NORTH QUEENSLAND, TOOK PLACE OVER A FOUR YEAR PERIOD, FROM 1963 TO 1967, ALLOWING APPROPRIATE TIME FOR THE PREPARATION OF EFFECTIVE PLANNING STRUCTURES AND LEGISLATION FOR THE CHANGE. THIS IS IN MARKED CONTRAST TO THE SPEED AND LIMITED CONSULTATION ASSOCIATED WITH THE RECENT AMALGAMATION OF JAMES COOK UNIVERSITY WITH TOWNSVILLE COLLEGE OF ADVANCED EDUCATION. ONE RESULT OF THIS DIFFERENT APPROACH IS THAT, ALTHOUGH KEN BACK IS A VERY KEEN YACHTSMAN LOCATED IN AN AREA OF THE WORLD OFFERING EXCELLENT SAILING OPPORTUNITIES, STEERING THE GOOD SHIP JAMES COOK NOW DEMANDS CONSIDERABLY MORE LEISURE TIME ACTIVITY.

Awards

Doctor of Science honoris causa
1983