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The Benevolent Black Hole: Staff recognised for long service

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When this staff writer joined the University in early 2013, colleagues told her in no uncertain terms that ‘Curtin is a black hole’. People get sucked in, and they never leave.

20-year Curtin service pin
20-year service pin

It’s a mirthful epitaph, but an equally fond one. People stay because they don’t want to go. The work conditions are favourable, job satisfaction rates are high, the culture welcoming and the campus lively.

On 30 July, Curtin celebrated staff members whose 20, 30 and 40 years of service stand as a great testament to an organisation that cares for its employees and shows it. More than 45 long-serving Curtin employees and their supporters attended the event, as well as members of the University’s Executive Council.

Opening the ceremony, Vice-Chancellor Professor Deborah Terry thanked staff for their dedication and passion over the years.

“What I have seen, first hand and in a very palpable manner, is that our staff believe in Curtin,” Vice-Chancellor Terry said.


“Our staff believe in Curtin.” – Vice-Chancellor Professor Deborah Terry

“The soul of this University is its staff and students: their ideas, their creativity, their passion, their innovation, and their commitment make Curtin what it is.”

The Vice-Chancellor also acknowledged the recent period of significant change at Curtin and the challenges this raised for many staff.

“Although it was not easy, staff showed huge professionalism and commitment during this time, and I acknowledge and thank our staff for this,” she said.


“Curtin really is a ‘family’.” – Professor David Wood

Celebrating 20 years at Curtin, Senior Executive Strategic Projects Professor David Wood gave the keynote address. He later reflected on his time at Curtin:

“Curtin really is a ‘family’,” says Professor Wood, who completed a PhD in urban and regional planning at the University in 2000 and went on to teach the subject.

“It’s one of the best places to work in terms of the opportunities it provides for interacting with likeminded individuals and especially young people. You really do have the opportunity to change things for the better.”

He fondly remembers his time as a lecturer and tutor – taking field trips to Exmouth, working with students and watching them develop.

“That was very important to me as a teacher,” says Professor Wood, who later affected administrative change as Pro-Vice Chancellor, Humanities, before becoming Deputy Vice-Chancellor, International.



“I don’t feel I’ve been with the same institution for all that time.” – Associate Professor Jill Sherriff.

Associate Professor Jill Sherriff with the Department of Nutrition, Dietetics and Food Technology was acknowledged for her 30 years of service. She reflects on the vast changes she has seen at Curtin during this time:

“The University has changed so much that I don’t feel I’ve been with the same institution for all that time,” she says.

“Changes in the technology associated with our working lives have been powerful. When I first arrived, ‘the computer’ occupied a large room in a building five minutes’ walk away.”

Associate Professor Sherriff says the staff are the best part of working at Curtin.

“I still see my original Head of School in the corridors and now work with some of my past students, which is a joy.”

Curtin’s longest serving staff member recognised on the night was Mr Michael Stack with the School of Pharmacy. He and other staff celebrating 30 and 40 years with the University were presented with a gold watch and a copy of Look Ever Forward: A history of Curtin University 1987-2012. Staff celebrating 20 years received a specially designed lapel pin and a copy of the book.

This year’s honour roll

Forty years of service

Mr Michael Stack
Ms Mary Simpson

Thirty years of service

Mr Lawrie Arnold
Professor Barry Fraser
Mr Tim O’Sullivan
Associate Professor Jill Sherriff
Professor Ram Ramaseshan
Mr John Warwick
Ms Sandra Wilson

Twenty years of service

Mr James Budworth
Mr Phil Celcer
Mr Geoffrey Coleman
Professor Tilak Chandratilleke
Miss Tram Do
Professor Ravi Fotedar
Professor Kevin Fynn
Associate Professor Natalie Gasson
Mr Chris Geoghegan
Mrs Jenny Goodison
Mr Dominic Howman
Professor Jeff Hughes
Associate Professor Don Ibana
Mr Kevin Knott
Dr Brian von Konsky
Dr Elizabeth Karol
Mrs Lena Kung
Ms Julie Langmead
Ms Toni Lush
Mrs Lyn Marks
Mr Lance Martin
Mr Brad McMurray
Associate Professor Mauro Mocerino
Ms Dee McCormack Murphy
Ms Grace Parker
Mr Malcolm Perry
Mrs Jillian Pim
Associate Professor Volker Rehbock
Mr Marco Schultheis
Mrs Sue Shephard
Professor John Stephens
Dr Jenny Thornton
Mr Joe Valenti
Miss Charlene Vincent
Mrs Celia Walker
Ms Nicole Wilton
Professor David Wood

Tokens of appreciation

Look Ever Forward: A history of Curtin University 1987-2012 

Historian Dr. Susan Hart worked through University archives and met with staff interested in sharing their stories to create a broad-spectrum history of Curtin from 1987, when the institution first gained university status, to the present day.

Look Ever Forward can be considered a companion to Michael White’s book, WAIT to Curtin: a History of the Western Australian Institute of Technology, which chronicles the earlier history of the institution. Together, the books span Curtin University’s entire history from its humble beginnings as Perth Technical School in 1900 to the international university we know today.

20-year service pin

Designed by artist and John Curtin Art Gallery Collection Manager Barbara Cotter, the 20-year service pin was inspired by the architectural features of the John Curtin Centre, the university’s physical and symbolic focal point. Since its completion in 1997, the building has become the heart of the campus, just as our staff are considered to be the heart of the university.


Share your thoughts on this story (comments are moderated in advance).

This story has 2 comments

  1. Anita Lethlean says:

    I have been working at Curtin for 25 years and I would like one of those 20 year pins. I never got a mention for my first 20 years, but I did get a book and a certificate for 25 years. I would rather have had the pin though.

    • Carmen Reilly says:

      Hi Anita
      Thanks for your feedback on the new pin. I’ve forwarded your comments to HR and they will be in touch.

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