Honorary Doctorate (April 1999)
The Right Honourable Sir Zelman Cowen was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in April 1999 in recognition of his outstanding contribution to national development and major contributions to higher education for over 20 years.
Sir Zelman (1919-2011) was one of the greatest living Australians, and is probably best known for his role as Governor-General in the healing years, following the Whitlam dismissal. In the 1970s as Vice-Chancellor of University of Queensland, he demonstrated his outstanding administrative prowess. At Griffith's 25th Anniversary celebrations in a public speech, he elaborated how important it was for Griffith not to be a University College clone of University of Queensland when it commenced operation, but to be independent from the outset to develop its own identity. Griffith had therefore, he said, to commence as a University, not a university college. He indirectly encouraged that independence at USC. He understood the invidious position we found ourselves in, with a name that did not reflect our status, and was a regular visitor and adviser. Each time he came to the Coast, and in frequent phone contacts, he maintained his deep interest in the University, and his advice was always insightful and encouraging. To have had someone of his stature associated with the University has been immensely helpful. He understood the sector, its historical development and the potential of a new university.