Australia’s universities aren’t shy about handing out honorary
doctorates and usually they’re reasonably judicious in only handing
them out to worthy recipients. But there are a few examples on our list
where the uni might just be wishing they could take the floppy hat back.

A deserving Australian receives his honorary doctorate – Dr Sir Leslie Colin Patterson.

Put a fork in them, the election is almost done.

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ENDS MIDNIGHT

The great honorary doctorate list


Philip Adams
: left school in his teens but still got a gong from Griffith University for services to pompousness we believe.


Robyn Archer
: performer writer, director and festival director; was
awarded an Honorary Doctorate of The Flinders University of South
Australia.


Gillian Armstrong
: director, honorary doctorate of letters from UNSW for her contribution to the Australian film industry.

Jim Bacon: the late Premier of Tasmania, who died of lung
cancer in June 2004, was awarded a posthumous honorary doctorate of
laws by the University of Tasmania in August 2004.


Archie Barton
: member of Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation,
received an honorary doctorate from University of South Australia for
his struggle to ensure compensation for the Maralinga Tjarutja people.

Peter
Beattie
: Queensland premier, received an honorary Doctor of Science
degree from the University of Queensland, December 2003.

John Bell: Shakespearean actor, honorary doctorate from the University of Newcastle.


Joh Bjelke-Petersen
: forgetful Queensland Premier, but his doctorate
conferral was a memorable one. Awarded an honorary doctorate in
Political Science by University of Queensland Chancellor and accomplice
Llew Edwards, despite not being able to recall the meaning of the
“separation of powers”. They had given an honorary doctorate to the
Premier of the time when the university celebrated its 25th and 50th
anniversaries, so when the 75th came along, the Senate decided there
was a tradition (i.e. it had happened twice already) and Joh must be
similarly honoured. This was 1986 – not long before the Moonlight State
– and it caused outrage amongst staff, students and the general
community. There was a minor riot at the graduation ceremony, plate
glass windows were broken, Joh failed to show up, and he was alleged
awarded the honour in a private ceremony in the Administration Building
some time later. He never used the title. If a sole subscriber
remembers correctly, it provoked indigenous poet Oodgeroo Noonuccal
(formerly Kath Walker) to return hers to the Uni. A sole subscriber has
great TV footage of current Qld. Dems Senator John Cherry in his young
and skinny days, leading a student protest to the University’s admin
offices and making a convincing argument that the honorary degree was
far from well deserved by the scurrilously corrupt and morally bankrupt
Friend of the Farmers.


Wolf Blass
: awarded honorary doctorate of applied science by the
Charles Sturt University for helping make us a more sophisticated
nation of drunkards, and for introducing our grog to the world.


Sir Donald Bradman
: DID NOT GET AN HONORARY DOCTORATE, but the council
of Griffith Uni wrote to the Don and offered one to him for services to
cricket and he wrote back declining saying that the Uni should give his
to Menzies instead.


Jill Broadbent
: company director, RBA board member, honorary doctorate degree from the University of Western Sydney.

Sultan of Brunei: awarded an honorary doctorate by the
University of Queensland. Any coincidence that Brunei has become a
large provider of international students to this institution? Plans are
also afoot to construct a new residential college for Muslim
international (fee paying) students, who will predominantly be sourced
from Brunei.

Rubin “The Hurricane” Carter: former boxer wrongfully jailed
for murder, honorary doctorate from Brisbane’s Griffith University for
his work in helping to overturn wrongful convictions, 2003.


Belinda Clark
: champion cricketer, honorary doctorate from Newcastle Uni.

Robert Clifford: chairman of the Tasmanian boat builder
Incat which has just gone into administration. Think his doctorate came
from Tassie Uni.


William Clough
: controversial chairman of Clough Limited and board
member of WA Newspaper Holdings; Honorary Doctorate of Engineering.


General Peter Cosgrove
: got one last year from Northern Territory Uni.


Ruth Cracknell
: late great actress, Curtin University, Sydney University, Queensland University, University of Western Sydney.


Ray Crooke
: artist, Griffith University.


Sir William Deane
: former GG and High Court judge, honorary doctorate
of laws, Dublin Uni; by UTS in recognition of his contribution to
reconciliation and multiculturalism in Australia and service to
humanity.


Richard Divall
: conductor, an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from Monash University in 1992.


John Doyle
: Rampaging Roy Slaven, University of Newcastle. His great
speech made up for our sole subscriber having to sit through three
hours of hand clapping for each of the 3,000 recipients (including his
wife for her Masters).


Russell Drysdale
: painter, Honorary Doctorate of Laws University of Melbourne conferred posthumously.


Duke of Edinburgh
: professional gaffe-maker. In 1986, to celebrate its
25th anniversary, Monash Uni decided to award an honorary doctorate to
the “Puke of Edinburgh”. At the same time, it cut funding to the
library. The ceremony took place during term break (as an attempt to
reduce protests). A sole subscriber who was Secretary of the Admin Exec
of the Monash Association of students at the time was part of a novel
little protest. As part of the protest, they had a ceremony where our
hero’s Chihuahua was given a degree. (Not very original, he concedes,
given that in the late 60’s a pig was given a degree in protest at
Bolte getting one). They did, however, have a little gown and cap made
for her. Our sole subscriber still has the invite he was given to
Government House for arvo tea afterwards. He didn’t go, not that he
thought they would actually let him in. He was refused entry to the
actual degree ceremony itself, probably because he tried to bring his
dog in with him.


Slim Dusty
: national treasure, Edith Cowan University in Western Australia, September 2002.


John Eales
: rugby legend, Australian Catholic University.


Ted Egan
: outback singer, an honorary Doctorate of Letters at NTU, June 2002.


Gareth-Gareth Evans
: motormouth, Honorary Doctorate of Laws, University of Melbourne, March 2002.


Mem Fox
: children’s author, Honorary Doctorate of letters from the University of Wollongong,
in 1996.


Malcolm Fraser
: former Prime Minister, by UTS in recognition of his
contribution to reconciliation and multiculturalism in Australia and
service to humanity.


Cathy Freeman
: got one from the University of Ballarat last year for
her “determination and willingness to tackle challenges”, where the
University looked very silly. Most people who commented publicly (there
were quite a few, apparently) were too scared to say that it was a
joke, so they got around this by saying it was “a rare example of the
honorary degrees process working the way it should”. A flimsy line. It
was a joke. Ballarat apparently has given out several other jokes to
innocent celebrities in the last few years.


Ruby Langford Ginibi
: Australian writer, noted for her representations
of urban Aboriginality, awarded an honorary doctorate by La Trobe
University.


Murray Gleeson
: chief justice of High Court; honorary doctorate from Griffith University.


Evonne Goolagong-Cawley
: awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Charles
Sturt University for her community and sporting achievements in April
2000.


Rino Grollo
: for being a great friend of La Trobe University and helping establish their Mt Buller Campus.


Rolf Harris
: board wobbler, honorary doctorate from Edith Cowan University.


Bill Hayden
: Honorary Doctorate of Laws from UQ in 1990 for his
distinguished contributions to Australian life as an MP, Minister,
Governor-General and Drover’s Dog advocate.


Scott Hicks
: film director (“Shine”); Flinders University of South
Australia (BA Honors) in 1975 and was awarded an honorary doctorate in
1997.

Peter Hollingworth: the Lambeth Doctorate of Letters
(D.Litt.) from the Archbishop of Canterbury (we’ve put this on the list
although the Archbishop of Canterbury says it is NOT an honorary
doctorate).


Jose Ramos Horta
: East Timorese independence movement leader, honorary law degree (doctoral no less) from UNSW.


John Winston Howard
: from Bar-Ilan University (Israel), in recognition
of his friendship to the Jewish people and his commitment to security
and peace for Israel; Honorary Doctorate of Laws from the University of
Notre Dame (WA).


Robert Hughes
: expat Aussie basher, received one from Melbourne Uni in
1965 – it was his first degree after he dropped out of their
undergraduate course.


Barry Humphries
: genius, honorary doctorate from Griffith University, 1994.


Barry Humphries
: Dr Humphries revceived his second doctorate, an
Honorary Doctorate of Laws, from the University of Melbourneon July 22,
2003.

Puggy Hunter: Aboriginal leader, from James Cook
University “in recognition of his exceptional contribution to the
advancement of human well-being”.


Hiroyuki Iwaki
: conductor, an honorary Doctorate of Laws from Monash University, in 1991.


Marjorie Jackson-Nelson
: Olympian and SA Governor, an honorary doctorate from the Charles Sturt University, April 2001.


Elizabeth Jolley
: author, two, from Macquarie and UQ.


Brian Johns
: former ABC chief, honorary doctorate from Queensland University of Technology.


Barry Jones
: got one from Wollongong University in 1995, presumably for services to the arts or science.


Robert Juniper
: artist, an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Western Australia in 1984.


Paul Keating
: antique clock collector, has one from Keio University in
Tokyo and another from the National University of Singapore, and
according to an old SMH article is also a visiting professor at UNSW.


Paul Kelly
– the Australian’s legendary senior journo received an honorary Doctorate of Letters from UNSW.


Jeff Kennett
: collected one from Ballarat University despite being an
anti-intellectual who is proud of the fact that he never went to uni
and doesn’t like graduates of university too much.


Yvonne Kenny
: diva, honorary doctorate of music, Sydney University.


Justice Michael Kirby
: got one last year from University of South
Australia (and it wasn’t for inadvertently making Hitman Heffernan look
like the little, little man that he is).


Dame Leonie Kramer
: the former Sydney Uni Chancellor received an honorary Doctorate of Letters from UNSW.


Dalai Lama
: Honorary Doctorate of Law, Melbourne University.


Michael Leunig
: the cartoonist from The Age got an honourary doctorate
from Latrobe University and just happened to be the guest speaker at
that particular ceremony.


Frank Lowy
: the wheel-greasing property developer was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Letters from the UNSW.


Professor Dr HRH Princess Chulabhorn Mahidol
: Thailand’s youngest
Royal, awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Science by the University of
Wollongong.


David Malouf
: author, Univeristy of Sydney.


Nelson Mandela
: from University of South Australia.


Michael McHugh AC
: Justice of the High Court of Australia; Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws, University of Newcastle.


Jack Mundey
v inventor of green bans, Honorary Doctorate, UNSW, 1999.


David Murray
: Commonwealth Bank CEO, awarded an Honorary Doctorate by
Macquarie University. He is an MGSM old boy from his MBA days there and
Club Mac has certainly benefited from the people’s bank pouring bucket
loads of cash into the uni.


Jac Nasser
: sacked Ford CEO, has an honorary doctorate from RMIT.


John Newcombe
: Newk, honorary degree “Doctor of the University, which
was awarded for his services to Australian sport”, Bond University. Oh
dear.


Greg Norman
: Great White Shank, awarded doctorate by Griffith Uni.
Purely coincidentally, GU Gold Coast was trying to crank up its golf
studies program. To this day they run challenging courses such as
‘International Certificate in Golf Operations’. Will the real Shark
please stand up?


Lowitja O’Donoghue
: honorary doctorates from Murdoch University, WA,
University of South Australia, Australian National University,
Queensland University of Technology, Flinders University of SA. Can any
other Aussie top this tally?


Sir Mark Oliphant
: distinguished physicist and former Governor of
South Australia, awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of
Birmingham.


Susie O’Neill
: Madame Butterfly, honorary doctorate from University of Queensland for flapping her wings well.


Kerry Packer
: Big Kerry, honorary doctorate from Bond Uni “for his
services to media and business in Australia”, and for royally screwing
their namesake.


Charles Perkins
: honorary doctorate from Sydney University.


Keiren Perkins
: Olympic 1500m swinner, honorary doctorate from the University of Queensland.


John Pilger
: blowhard, an Honorary Doctorate of Literature by
Staffordshire University (UK), and an Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy
from in Dublin City University, in March 1995.


Neville Roach AO
: chairman of the Council for Multicultural Australia
and chairman of Fujitsu Australia Limited, awarded a University of New
South Wales honorary Doctor of Science.


Dorothy Ross
: from Charles Sturt University in recognition of
life-long public service to many national groups including being a
founder member of the Australian Press Council and National President
of the Country Women’s Association.


Geoffrey Rush
: actor, Honorary Doctorate of Letters by the University of Queensland.


Dame Margaret Scott
: dancer, received the nod from RMIT.


Dagmar Schmidmaier
: NSW State Librarian recieved a Doctor of Letters
from UNSW and is an honorary professor at UTS. Possibly for her work in
changing office locations and redecorating, or maybe downsizing
disgruntled library staff (about 90 applied for redundancies, most got
’em) to pay for the redecorating.


Harry Seidler
: architect, just got one from Uni Sydney.


Yahoo Serious
: got a gong from University of Newcastle in the same
year they awarded John Bell a gong! Talk about a slip in standards.
Apparently he originally hails from Newcastle. In his acceptance speech
he commented that he never finished his diploma at the University and
was now being given a free doctorate. Wouldn’t the real PhDs just love
that?


Paul Simons
: ex-Chairman of Woolworths Limited, was awarded a Honorary
Doctorate from Griffith University, Queensland, in March 1995, for his
“significant contribution to the retailing industry in Australia”.


Jeffrey Smart
: artist, Univeristy of Sydney.


Aung San Suu Kyi
: Myanmar opposition leader, honorary doctorate of
Laws, Melbourne University; Honorary Doctorate of Letters, UTS.


Anne Summers
: prominent feminist and writer who has a real PhD, was
awarded an Honorary Doctorate for her contribution to journalism and
the advancement of women by the University of New South Wales.


Dame Joan Sutherland
: opera legend, awarded an honorary doctorate from University of Queensland.


Colin Thiele
: children’s author, University of South Australia.


Mark “Tubby” Taylor
: air-conditioning spruiker; UNSW “Doctorate of
Science honoris causa in recognition of his distinguished contribution
and leadership in Australian sport”. We’re stumped if we can pick the
connection between cricket and science, although boxing is the “sweet
science”. Apparently the Council chewed the fat (excuse the pun) for
some time about awarding Tubby Taylor an honorary doctorate, with quite
a few very vociferous dissenters. He only just got up, according to our
source, and the whole debate caused a fair bit of angst.

Noel Turnbull: the spin king received an honorary Doctor of Communication from RMIT.

Steve Vizard: the businessman and entertainer reveived a Deakin University honorary degree of Doctor of Laws (honoris causa) in April 2005.


EG Whitlam
: honorary doctorate for services to self-aggrandisement from the University of Western Sydney.


Nicholas Whitlam
: made a hash of running the NRMA, his troubles
starting not long after being awarded an honorary doctorate from the
UNSW in 1996.


Ray Williams
: crook, an honorary degree from Monash University.


Hugh Wirth
: RSPCA president, Doctor of Veterinary Science (DVSc) honoris causa from Melbourne University.


Simone Young
: conductor, got one from UNSW.


Now let’s take a look at the material we’ve been sending to our subscribers on this topic:

Sealed section May 16

HONORARY DOCTORATES

We’ve had some cracking contributions to the burgeoning honorary doctorates list:

A subscriber writes:

“How could you forget Sir Joh’s honorary doctorate, award by the
University of Queensland (1987..?). Also, UQ recently awarded a
doctorate to the Sultan of Brunei (2000). Any coincidence that Brunei
has become a large provider of international students to this
institution?

Plans are also afoot to consruct a new residential college for Muslim
international (fee paying) students, who will predominantly be sourced
from Brunei. Call me a cyncic, but I doubt international solidarity was
at the heart of the decision to confer the honarary degree – more
likely the good will necessary to secure international students (and
their fees).

As a member of the University Senate, please keep my name out of this.

Anon

A student subscriber writes:

“Most notorious doctorate in Queensland was awarded to Sir Joh
Bjelke-Petersen by the University of Queensland. They had given an
honorary doctorate to the Premier of the time when the university
celebrated its 25th and 50th anniversaries, so when the 75th came
along, the Senate decided there was a tradition (= it had happened
twice already) and Joh must be similarly honoured. This was 1986 – not
long before the Moonlight State – and it caused outrage amongst staff,
students and the general community. There was a minor riot at the
graduation ceremony, plate glass windows were broken, Joh failed to
show up, and he was alleged awarded the honour in a private ceremony in
the Administration Building some time later. He never used the title.

Marion

THIS IS SERIOUS ABOUT DR YAHOO

A subscriber writes:

If you’re interested, here’s two for your list.

“Shakespearian actor John Bell was given an honorary doctorate from the University of Newcastle.

Then, in a later year, so was Yahoo Serious. Apparently he originally
hails from Newcastle. In his acceptance speech he commented that he
never finished his diploma at the University and was now being given a
free doctorate.

I’m trying to work out how to get one for myself.

regards, David

WAHID ALMOST SCORED ONE

Stephen,

Deakin was inches from giving Frail Partially Blind Muslim Cleric
Doctor Abdurhaman Gus Dur Wahid an Honoris whatever just before he went
the high jump. Much muttering at the time – not sure if it went through
or not. Can’t get sued for posting that, can you?

MORE UQ SPECIALS SERVE UP DR KIERAN AND DR SUSIE

A subscriber writes:

Some more for the list:

Joh BjeilkePeterson’s memorable one, awarded by UQ Chancellor and
accomplice Llew Edwards, in Political Science, from memory, despite not
being able to recall the meaning of the separation of powers.

The renowned scholars Suzie O’Neil and Keiren Perkins are also graduands from the UQ PhD list.

Paul Keating has one from Keio University in Tokyo and another from the
National University of Singapore, and according to an old SMH article
is also a visiting professor at UNSW

Regards, Geoff

A SHINING PERFORMANCE FROM DR RUSH

A subscriber writes:

Ooooh – my favourite gripe!!

Geoffrey Rush received an hon. doc. from the Uni. of Qld. in 1997 (the
year he won his Oscar), and Greg Norman has also got one from Griffith
Uni. (don’t know the year).

Then there’s always my fave and yours – Joh Bjelke-Petersen infamously
received one from good ol’ U. of Q. in the late 1980s, nearly causing a
riot and, if I remember correctly, provoking Indigenous poet Oodgeroo
Noonuccal (formerly Kath Walker) to return hers to the Uni. I have
great TV footage of current Qld. Dems. Senator John Cherry in his young
and skinny days, leading a student protest to the University’s admin
offices and making a convincing argument that the hon. Degree was far
from well deserved by the scurrilously corrupt and morally bankrupt
Friend of the Farmers.

Finally, as a PhD student myself, I object v. strongly to awarding hon.
doctorates to really young people (such as Susie O’Neill) who do not
have a lifetime of achievement behind them and who have already been
well recognised and decorated in their chosen fields of endeavour!

I am looking forward to getting my honorary Oscar or Olympics gold
medal when I finally receive my PhD – I think the sporting and arts
worlds should recognise academic achievement as readily as academe
rushes to bestow otherwise hard-won laurels on sporting and acting
success!

Yours in honorary exasperation, Nicky

DR TUBBY TAYLOR

Dear Crikey,

The University of New South Wales, my current employer, awarded a doctorate to Mark Taylor, as your site points out.

You may be interested to know that my information is that The Council
(the governing body that awards these honours) debated long and hard
about awarding Tubby Taylor an honorary doctorate, with quite a few
very vocal dissenters, and that in fact he got over the line with a
bare margin. It is said that this issue caused quite a bit of angst
around the corridors.

You may like to add some of this detail, anonymously, of course.

DR GOOLAGONG

Hi Crikey

Another for “The great honorary doctorate list”:

Evonne Goolagong-Cawley, awarded an Honourary Doctorate from Charles
Sturt University for her community and sporting achievements in April
2000.

Cheers, Mark

And finally, we’re advised that RMIT gave one to sacked Ford CEO Jac Nasser.

Sealed Section update on May 17

RAMPAGING HONORARY DOCTORATE

A subscriber writes:

“Proud as I was to watch my then girlfriend (now wife)
receive her masters at the University of Newcastle last year, I was not
exactly excited about spending 3 hours clapping on 3,000 successive
occasions as they shuffled up and down off the stage. So, you can
imagine my delight to find that none other than DR JOHN DOYLE (aka
rampaging Roy Slaven) was to receive an Honorary Doctorate and make the
graduation address!

I have some sympathy with the views expressed by another PhD Student
about sports figures getting a guernsey for this sort of thing as I am
still awaiting my Honorary Brownlow Medal – but in Doyle’s case I
think it is thoroughly deserved – it was a great speech too.

Guy”

DR DAVID MURRAY AUSTRALIA’S MOST THIN-SKINNED CEO

G’day Stephen,

David Murray (Comm Bank CEO) was awarded an Honorary Doctorate last
year by Macquarie University. He is an MGSM old boy from his MBA days
there and Club Mac have certainly benefitted from the people’s bank
pouring bucket loads of cash into the uni.

Matt

DR GREG NORMAN AND THE GOLF STUDIES PROGRAM

Dear Crikey,

Griffith Uni not so long ago blessed that well known public
intellectual and part-time Australian, Greg Norman, with an Honorary
Doctorate. Purely coincidentally, GU Gold Coast was trying to crank up
its golf studies programme. To this day they run challenging courses
such as ‘International Certificate in Golf Operations’. Will the real
shark please stand up?

Name suppressed

DR DALAI LAMA

The Dalai Lama has a honorary Doctorate from the University of
Melbourne. I think he was presented it back in 1993 when I was on
Student Council. My recollection is a bit hazy but I believe Student
Council had to vote for the to be awarded, so may be that is why you
won’t find too many controversial ones from the University of
Melbourne.

Regards, David

DR DUKE

A troublemaker writes:

In 1986, to celebrate its 25th anniversary, Monash Uni decided to award
an honourary doctorate to the Puke of Edinborough. At the same time, it
cut funding to the library.

The ceremony took place during term break (as an attempt to reduce
protests) I was Secretary of the Admin Exec of the Monash Assoc of
students at the time. As part of the protest, we had our own ceremony
where my Chihuaha was given a degree (Not very original, given that in
the late 60’s a pig was given a degree in protest at Bolte getting
one). We did, however, have a little gown and cap made for her. I still
have the invite I was given to Gov House for arvo tea afterwards. I
didn’t go, not that I thought they would actually let me in. I was
refused entry to the actual degree ceremony itself, probably cos I
tried to bring my dog in too.

Anon

DR RINO GROLLO

Hi Stephen,

It is actually Dr Rino Grollo – for being a great friend of La Trobe
University and helping establish their Mt Buller Campus. Didn’t know
they had doctorates for pouring cement?

Regards, Bob

PS I am fairly sure Paul Keating was given one by UNSW in Asia Pacific studies or something similar too.

Great lists in the Crikey Archives

Subscribers can access some of the fascinating lists we’ve compiled over the past two years which include:

* More than 200 journalistic couples

* Politicians on the public super and private salaries.

* Journalists now in corporate or political PR.

* Lily white journalists who have never sold out.

* Journalists who have made it in senior management.

* Journalists currently working for PR agencies.

* Famous Australian defamation battles.

* The Crikey Rich List.

* Cynically timed announcements.

* Journalists in Parliament.

* Journalistic dynasties.

* Unionists in Parliament.

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