Emeritus Professor Jim McKnight Memorial Fund

Rewarding passion and ingenuity

Jim McKnight Memeorial PrizeEmeritus Professor Jim McKnight was an exceptional person. He was a Professor of Psychology, a qualified washing machine mechanic, builder, electrician, jewellery maker, bricklayer and author and co-author of 10 books. His wide and varied interests coupled with his passion for helping others made him the person that everyone so admired.

Jim was also the recipient of an Order of Australia Medal for his services to the community. He would resurrect dilapidated washing machines, fix them in his garage, and then donate them to members of the community. The Governor General at the time was compelled to ring him as he was curious to talk with somebody who had received an OAM for fixing washing machines.

When he wasn't working on washing machines or obtaining tradesman qualifications, Jim liked nothing better than to write. He authored or co-authored 10 books, ranging from homosexuality to buying and selling houses.

Jim was always willing to support those who needed him. His acceptance of others, his acts of support, consideration and kindness, and his belief in those he helped spanned his academic and personal life. He preferred to be called Jim rather than Professor, and to be in shorts, T-shirt and thongs.

Jim was a pioneer in psychology education in Australia, but most of all, he was a caring, compassionate, loving human being.

Jim McKnight was one of Australia's eminent professors of psychology.

The prize

The Emeritus Professor Jim McKnight Memorial Prize encourages today's Western Sydney University psychology students to show initiative, challenge established practices, and to keep in sight the bigger picture by maintaining a diverse array of interests – as reflected in their subject choices.

Jim's willingness to share his time and knowledge benefited many. One recipient of his generosity was inspired to establish the prize, which is awarded to a psychology student who has completed the subject History and Philosophy of Psychology. The School of Psychology staff recommend the beneficiary based on their subject choices, interests and initiative.

In perpetuity

To ensure students continue to be rewarded for their passion and ingenuity, Western Sydney University is seeking to create an endowment that will fund the prize in perpetuity.

By donating to the Emeritus Professor Jim McKnight Memorial Prize, you are encouraging our students to strive to reach their potential, and supporting Western Sydney University as an institution of excellence.

Support the Emeritus Professor Jim McKnight Memorial Prize now

A pioneer in psychology

In 1982, Jim came as a lecturer to Western Sydney University – then the Milperra College of Advanced Education.

He became the head of a relatively small Department of Psychology within the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, and set about expanding the department.

He was appointed Professor of Psychology in 1995, and supervised the University's first PhD. He was later honoured by the University for 'research supervision excellence'.

In 1999, Jim was awarded a Chair in Psychology and was given the task of building a School of Psychology during the amalgamation of the three members of the University.

Not only did he raise the reputation of the School of Psychology such that it became the second largest in Australia with almost 50 academics, but it was also considered by the Australian Psychological Society as one of the best schools of psychology in Australia.

Jim had a deep and trusting relationship with staff, and the ability to bring together academics with very diverse points of view. His door was always open to staff and students.

His tireless dedication and significant impact on the development of psychology at the University– and around Australia – resulted in the University conferring on him the title of Professor Emeritus in 2007.

The Emeritus Professor Jim McKnight Memorial Prize recognises the significant contributions and achievements of Jim McKnight.


The Advancement and Alumni team is available to discuss how you can help Western Sydney University remain an institution of excellence.

t: +61 2 9685 9511
f: +61 2 9685 9510
e: giving@westernsydney.edu.au