Professor Dennis Gibson - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Professor Dennis Gibson

Honorary Doctorate (April 1999)

Professor Dennis Gibson was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in April 1999 in recognition of his strong leadership in the field of higher education.

Professor Dennis Gibson was the first Vice-Chancellor of QUT serving from 1989 until 2003. Under his leadership, QUT has grown in size and status to become one of Australia's most important universities. He has been a member of a large number of national committees on higher education. He commands a great deal of respect within QUT, as he does at a national level, as an innovative and influential Vice-Chancellor. QUT was involved with a campus at Nambour from the late 1980s. In 1992/93, QUT had to decide on whether it would sustain its development on the Sunshine Coast, a course of action that would have been welcomed by the then Commonwealth Government. Or whether it would allow the development of a new, independent institution. Professor Gibson was persuasive in QUT choosing the latter course of action despite being subjected to pressure not to do so, from a number of quarters. He was strong enough to maintain that stance, convinced that given the growth projections for the Sunshine Coast, independence was an inevitability in the long-term. Few people are aware of how significant a stance that was, how contrary it was to what was happening in an expansionist sector, and how much pressure he was subjected to, to change that stance. He did not. His decisive leadership led to this University being established, not as a campus of QUT, but as an independent university from the outset in 1994, and thus he gave USC the scope to configure the University anew, geared to the needs of the Sunshine Coast, rather than reflecting the structures of a metropolitan university.