2016 Murdoch University Distinguished Alumni Awards Winners

Introducing the winners for the 2016 Distinguished Alumni Awards!

The Murdoch University Distinguished Alumni Awards recognise and celebrate the outstanding professional achievements, community service and personal journey of our exceptional alumni.

To the 2016 Distinguished Alumni Award winners, Mr Chen Siqing, Dr Kuruvilla Mathew, Patrick McClure AO and Professor Jan Thomas, congratulations! Your skills, knowledge and innovation are changing the world for the better.

Dr Kuruvilla Mathew

Dr Kuruvilla Mathew

PhD 1982

Dr Mathew has made an outstanding contribution throughout his career as an Engineer to the field of environmentally sound technologies, applying his expertise in water supply, waste management systems and renewable energy to the improvement of living conditions in developing countries and Australian indigenous communities. 

Kuruvilla has overseen the research, development and deployment of several important water technologies for developing communities, including the solar powered desalination unit, the hydrogen sulphide water test kit and the evapotranspiration wastewater disposal method. This research contributed to the invention of the solar powered reverse osmosis desalination unit, for which he was able to secure a patent along with Prof Goen Ho and Dr Don Harrison.

The desalination unit has been used in Indonesian, Pacific and Indian Ocean Islands.  The onsite bacteriological test kit, developed as part of Dr Mathew’s research at Murdoch, has been used in Nepal and in many isolated communities.

Dr Mathew worked tirelessly from 1986 to 1999 servicing remote Aboriginal communities. In 1986, he established the Remote Area Developments Group with Prof Goen Ho, Prof Peter Newman and Mr Ross Lantzke and commenced research and fieldwork with a number of the remote communities for new water and wastewater systems to improve environmental health and living conditions.

Dr Mathew travelled extensively to these communities, delivering training to the local people and providing support in the development of this systems. He formed an Indigenous Advisory Committee to oversee the work of the group and many of those on the committee remain among his good friends today including Mrs Mara West and Mr Fred Spring.

The focus of Dr Mathew, for much of his career, has been on the plight of the poor and those in developing communities. From an engineering perspective, his passion was to work for people in remote Aboriginal communities and developing countries. He also inspired many of his friends, students and research staff to do the same and through this work they were able to undertake an impassioned approach to their work, studies and research.

In 2015, Dr Mathew was awarded the honour Fellow of International Water Industry in recognition of his many years of service to the water industry.

Mr Patrick McClure AO

Mr Patrick McClure AO

MA 1991

Patrick McClure AO has made an outstanding contribution to civil society and social policy, especially as a leader of civil society organisations and advisor to governments in the areas of welfare reform, welfare to work, investment in early intervention services, community-business partnerships, social enterprises and social impact investment. 

Patrick was Chief Executive Officer of Mission Australia from 1997 to 2006. During his tenure the organisation was restructured from separate state based entities to an international organisation with annual revenue exceeding $300 million and 3000 staff. They provide employment and training; housing and youth, family, child and aged care services to over 200,000 disadvantaged people.

He was also Chief Executive Officer of the Society of St Vincent de Paul (NSW/ACT) from 1992 till 1996 during a period of major organisation reform. The organisation had total funds of $375 million and provided housing and social assistance to over 500,000 disadvantaged people each year.

Mr McClure has been a key advisor to governments in the development of Australian social policy over many years, including the Howard, Rudd and Abbott Governments.  He also regularly addresses national and international conferences and forums as well as appearing in the media on social policy issues.

In 2014 McClure was appointed Chair of the Reference Group on Welfare Reform to review the $110 billion income support system in Australia. In June 2014 he launched an Interim Report which was followed by public consultations with over 175 stakeholders in all states and territories, 50 people on income support. There were 270 public submissions and 310 online comments.

The Final Report "A New System for Better Employment and Social Outcomes" was launched in Canberra on February 23, 2015 by Mr McClure and the then Minister for Social Services, the Hon Scott Morrison. The Final Report received strong community, media and political support.

Mr McClure was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 2003 for "services to the community through the development of social capital policy initiatives, and in the delivery of programs addressing social justice, welfare support, health and employment generation issues.”

In 2001, he was awarded an Australian Centenary Medal for “service to the community as CEO of Mission Australia.”

He has published a memoir entitled “Seize the Day: From Priest to CEO.” The book was launched in April 2013 by the former Prime Minister, the Hon John Howard.

Mr Chen Siqing

Mr Chen Siqing

MBA 1999

Mr Chen has been the Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Bank of China (BOC) since April 2014 and the President of the bank since February 2014. He joined the bank in 1990 and served as Executive Vice President from June 2008 to February 2014.

Mr Chen has held various positions in the bank from June 2000 to May 2008, including Assistant General Manager and Deputy General Manager of the Fujian Branch, General Manager of the Risk Management Department of the Head Office and General Manager of the Guangdong Branch.

Since December 2011, Mr Chen has been serving as a Non-executive Director of BOC Hong Kong (Holdings) Limited and Chairman of the Board of Directors of BOC Aviation Limited. Mr Chen has been serving as Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of BOCHK Holdings since March 2014.

Mr Chen is also the Director of Trade Finance Committee of the China Banking Association, and the Vice Chairman of China Chamber of International Commerce.

Mr Chen has a sound academic knowledge in economics and finance, as well as rich experience in commercial banking and operation management. During his 26 years at the Bank of China, he consecutively served several management roles home and abroad with professional expertise on businesses such as corporate credit, risk management, financial management, internal control and compliance.

Mr Chen has remarkably enhanced the bank’s overall risk management level with his continuous efforts. He has pushed forward the construction and improvement of the bank’s whole process risk management policy and regime system and integrated a customer credit rating system.

In 2016, led by Mr Chen, BOC Aviation Limited, the global leading aircraft leasing company was successfully listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. This is the first case of a commercial bank controlled subsidiary being successfully listed in the Chinese capital market, setting an example for the mix ownership reform and market value management for Chinese banking industries.

He is the author of several books and has also published in journals and magazines such as The Banker, China Financial, International Financial, Studies of International Financial and Financial News.

Professor Jan Thomas

Professor Jan Thomas

From childhood, Professor Jan Thomas planned to be a veterinarian. She has successfully completed a Bachelor of Science (Veterinary Biology); a Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery; a Master of Veterinary Studies (Pathology); and in 1997, a PhD in Veterinary Science at Murdoch University. At the time of graduation, she was the youngest veterinarian in Australia.

Jan began working as a Veterinary Surgeon in 1984 with subsequent positions as a Diagnostic Veterinary Pathologist and a Private Laboratory Consultant before commencing as a veterinary academic in pathology at Murdoch University. As she became more involved in teaching and researching, she fell in love with universities and the extraordinary privilege that working in higher education delivers.

From 2003, Professor Thomas served as Deputy Vice-Chancellor (DVC) at Murdoch University, and in 2010 was appointed DVC Research and Quality, and DVC Fremantle at the University of Notre Dame Australia. In January 2012, she became University of Southern Queensland (USQ) Vice-Chancellor and President. In January 2017, Professor Thomas will commence as Vice-Chancellor of Massey University in New Zealand.

In her role as Vice-Chancellor, Professor Thomas is responsible for leading and managing the university’s academic, operational and external affairs, which includes a 370 million dollar turnover annually, oversees nearly 1,700 (full-time equivalent) staff and 29,000 students across the University’s three Queensland campuses, learning centres and international operations. 

Professor Thomas is passionate about delivering accessible, quality education with a particular interest in advancing the circumstances of minority groups and underprivileged individuals. With a firm focus on social justice, she is particularly committed to bolstering university attainment rates within regional communities, as a means to create sustainable places to live and work.

She believes an organisation’s success depends on its people. Professor Thomas’s corporate strategies, plans and initiatives aim to promote USQ as an employer of choice for employees from diverse backgrounds and create an inclusive environment in which all individuals are supported and respected. Promoting and improving gender equality and outcomes for both women and men in the workplace is a key priority.

Jan engages with government at all levels and with other external stakeholders in the political, business, education, philanthropic and national capital communities through effective communication and advocacy, directly and through the media. As a skilled and requested public speaker, she is a prolific arbiter on social causes demonstrating that business acumen and success need not be exclusive of a strong social conscience and public activism.

Professor Thomas is Chair of the Managing Council of the Association of Commonwealth Universities based in London; Chair for the Regional Universities Network in Australia; and Chair of the State Library Board of Queensland.  As a member of the Queensland Futures Council, she is part of an independent body shaping Queensland’s economic and social future. 

Professor Thomas’s commitment to advance her passions of education, social justice and community wellness is an inspiration to all … but Jan would not hesitate to say that her proudest achievement is raising a young family as a sole parent and seeing them enter adulthood as beautiful, well-rounded contributors to the world we live in. 

Professor Thomas has received the following awards:-

  • 1996 Recipient of a Murdoch University Vice-Chancellor’s “Excellence in Teaching” Award
  • 1997/1998 Recipient, inaugural Australian Veterinary Association’s “Excellence in Teaching Award” for outstanding teaching in Veterinary Science
  • 1999 Recipient, inaugural “Catherine McAuley Award for Leadership” to women aged 25 - 40 who have demonstrated outstanding leadership or potential to lead in their designated area
  • 2000 Recipient, Vice-Chancellor’s “Equity Award”
  • 2008 Finalist, Inspire Western Australian Woman of Influence
  • 2012 Women’s Achievement Award, World Education Congress Mumbai
  • 2013 Education Leadership Award, World Marketing Summit Kuala Lumpur
  • 2014 Education Leadership Award, World Education Congress Mumbai
  • 2014 Top 125 Women of Influence Queensland

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