Published on 20 April 2012
20 April 2012
A University of the Sunshine Coast founding academic who helped introduce professional programs such as psychology, social work and urban planning to cater for regional needs has received an honorary award.
Professor Pam Dyer, a long-time champion of sustainable development and environmental preservation, became an Emeritus Professor at the University’s Graduation ceremony on 4 April.
The Pelican Waters retiree was one of three former academics to receive the award only presented once previously to founding USC Vice-Chancellor Paul Thomas AM after his retirement last year. The other recipients are Professor Rod Simpson of Palmwoods and Professor Andrew Hede of Buderim.
Professor Dyer said it was a heartening recognition of her commitment to the University between 1996 and 2011.
“I had been a mature-age student in Brisbane and late to enter the workforce,” she said. “I worked in administration before the University of the Sunshine Coast recognised my potential to be an academic at age 53.”
With her passion for geography, Professor Dyer first lectured in the USC course Australia in its Global Context before working her way up to become Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences in 2005.
“Bringing programs such as psychology, social work and planning to the Faculty married the link between the University and the community,” she said. “These are important professions on the Coast, given its social structure and fast development.”
One example was her introduction of a Bachelor of Regional and Urban Planning in 2004 to produce more urban planners in regional areas.
She said USC was “absolutely crucial” to the Coast’s future because of its ability to produce professionals who have greater awareness of regional needs.
“My work at USC focused on recognising the differences between the needs of city areas and provincial areas and educating students so they could get jobs anywhere in the world.”
USC Vice-Chancellor Greg Hill presented the award to Professor Dyer “for her contributions to education, academic leadership and sustained and distinguished service”.
“Pam is well-known for working tirelessly to seize opportunities and accept leadership roles,” he said.
“Her teaching areas were in sustainable development, urbanism and urban design, and interpretation. Her career has included close links with active researchers within the local community, nationally and internationally.”
Professor Dyer is a member of the Planning Institute of Australia, Ecotourism Association of Australia, Birdlife Australia and a life member of the Sunshine Coast Environment Council.
Her research involved sustainable development and ornithology. She has worked with the Environmental Protection Agency on seabird monitoring.
She is now assistant secretary of the Sunshine Coast Orchid Society Caloundra.
Becoming an emeritus professor means Dr Dyer will be able to retain the title of “professor” even though she has retired from academia.
— Julie Schomberg