Western Sydney University proudly celebrates December graduation

Thousands of excited graduands will come together to celebrate their achievements when Western Sydney University holds its graduation ceremonies at the Parramatta South campus, 13-17 December.

Across five days and 18 ceremonies, approximately 4,000 graduands will receive degrees from a range of disciplines, including nursing and midwifery, business, social science, education, engineering, law, psychology, arts and communication.

Upon their graduation, they will join a vibrant network of more than 200,000 Western Sydney University alumni located throughout Australia and around the world.

As part of Graduation celebrations, students and their special guests will have the opportunity to hear from a range of inspirational occasional speakers from across industry and the community.

Western Sydney University will also honour a number of outstanding individuals for their significant contributions to the Greater Western Sydney region and Australian public life.

Among the recipients is Mr Lang Walker AO, Founder and Executive Chairman of Walker Corporation, who will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Letters in recognition of his significant contribution to the western Sydney region and to the University.

Acclaimed artist, Mr Guan Wei will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Creative Arts in recognition of his significant international contribution to the visual arts and to the University.

While Aboriginal Elder, Uncle Greg Simms, will receive an Honorary Fellowship in recognition of his role as a leading educator of Aboriginal culture, and for his contribution to Western Sydney University.

The full list of honorary awardees for the December graduation ceremonies are:

  • Mr Lang Walker AO will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Letters
  • Mr Peter Graham will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Letters
  • Mr Guan Wei will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Creative Arts
  • Professor Peter Hutchings will be accorded the title of Emeritus Professor
  • Reverend Dr Manas Ghosh will receive a Community Fellowship
  • Uncle Greg Simms will receive an Honorary Fellowship
  • Professor Steven Freeland will be accorded the title of Emeritus Professor

WHERE: Western Sydney University's Parramatta South campus, corner Victoria Road and James Ruse Drive, Rydalmere.

WHEN: Monday 13 December to Friday 17 December 2021.

TIME: Ceremonies begin from 9.30am each day.

FOR JOURNALISTS: Please advise the Media Team if you plan to attend, who can assist with parking, via email: media@westernsydney.edu.au. Please note a number of COVID-19 safe measures will be in place, and you be required to be double-vaccinated, check in via a QR code and adhere to hygiene and physical distancing requirements.

Honorary Awardee and Occasional Address Speaker Biographies

During the December graduation ceremonies, a series of honorary awards will be presented – with the titles of Honorary Doctorate, Honorary Fellow and Community Fellow bestowed upon distinguished community leaders.

An additional highlight of each graduation ceremony is the Occasional Address. Western Sydney University graduands and their guests will have the opportunity to hear from a range of distinguished guest speakers.

Ceremony 1 – Monday 13 December 2021 – 9.30am

Dr Bronwyn Evans, CEO, Engineers Australia

Dr Evans will deliver the Occasional Address

Ceremony 2 - Monday 13 December 2021 – 12 noon

Dr Kouosh Kayvani, Principal at HKA

Dr Kayvani will deliver the Occasional Address

Ceremony 3 – Monday 13 December 2021 – 2.30pm

Ms Elizabeth Koff, Secretary, NSW Health

Ms Koff will deliver he Occasional Address

Ceremony 4 - Monday 13 December 2021 – 5.00pm

Mr Graeme Loy, Chief Executive, Western Sydney Local Health District

Mr Loy will deliver the Occasional Address

Ceremony 5 – Tuesday 14 December 2021 – 9.30am

Mr Scott McGrath, Director of Nursing and Midwifery Services, Liverpool Hospital, South Western Sydney Local Health District

Mr McGrath will deliver the Occasional Address

Ceremony 6 - Tuesday 14 December 2021 – 12 noon

Ms Kate Hackett, Director of Nursing and Midwifery, Westmead Hospital

Ms Hackett will deliver the Occasional Address

Ceremony 7 – Tuesday 14 December 2021 – 2.30pm

Ms Julie Williams, Executive Director, Nursing and Midwifery, Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District

Ms Williams will deliver the Occasional Address

Ceremony 8 – Tuesday 14 December 2021 – 5.00pm

Professor Steven Freeland

Professor Freeland will be accorded the title Emeritus Professor and deliver the Occasional Address

Ceremony 9 – Wednesday 15 December 2021 – 9.30am

Mr Domenic Lo Surdo, Joint Managing Director, Stamford Capital Australia

Mr Lo Surdo will deliver the Occasional Address

Ceremony 10 – Wednesday 15 December 2021 – 12 noon

Dr Allan Fife OAM, Founder and Chief, Investment Officer, Fife Capital

Dr Fife will deliver the Occasional Address

Ceremony  11 – Wednesday 15 December 2021 – 2.30pm

Mr Lang Walker AO

Mr Walker will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Letters and will deliver the Occasional Address

Mr Lang Walker AO is the founder and Executive Chairman of Walker Corporation, Australia’s largest private, diversified property development company. Mr Walker has been involved in the property development industry for over half a century. During this time, he has created three successful property development empires and delivered over 1,000 projects, including national landmark destinations. His passion, enthusiasm and natural intuition for property development are undeniable.

In 1964, Lang Walker and his father, Alec Walker, established A & L Walker Pty Ltd in New South Wales as a plant hire and earthmoving contractor. In 1972, Lang Walker founded The Walker Group. Soon after, he expanded the development arm of the business into the Sutherland Shire of Sydney, creating small-scale, strata-titled industrial and commercial centres for small to medium-sized businesses. By the late 1980s, Walker Group had diversified its portfolio to encompass industrial, commercial, and residential developments, together with civil engineering projects in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

Walker Corporation joined the Australian Securities Exchange in 1994, and with this newfound backing delivered some of their most impressive and iconic developments to date in terms of scale and amenity – introducing a mixed-use approach for large-scale commercial, retail and residential developments. Major projects included the Wharf at Woolloomooloo, Broadway Shopping Centre, King Street Wharf, in addition to student housing in Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Sydney.

Further developments throughout the last two decades have included the impressive Rhodes Waterside, Hope Island Resort in Queensland, and Collins Square in Melbourne’s CBD.

Lang’s commitment to Western Sydney is evident through his extensive property developments at Parramatta Square, Bankstown and the Macarthur region. In late 2019, Western Sydney University and the Walker Group announced a strategic partnership to provide the highest quality, educational and medical research facilities for south-western Sydney. In this partnership, the Walker Group will deliver the University’s new state-of-the-art vertical campus in the Bankstown CBD, which is set to open in 2022 and accommodate up to 12,000 students. The Walker Group has contributed $26 million in philanthropic gifts to the University, helping to achieve an ambitious vision for the Macarthur Medical Research Centre, transforming Campbelltown Hospital into an internationally engaged research precinct with a world-class medical research centre for the rapidly-growing Macarthur region. In addition, Mr Walker has funded the establishment of the Lang Walker Professorial Chair in Urban Transformation, an endowed Chair that will advance innovation and sustainability in the property, design and delivery spaces.  

In early 2021, the Walker Family Foundation demonstrated their commitment to educational transformation with a donation of $2 million to the University, to establish 30 undergraduate scholarships per year for five years. Lang Walker has also generously donated to the Whitlam Institute.

Mr Walker was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 2015 for distinguished service to the community as a significant benefactor and supporter of social welfare, medical research, health care, heritage, and sporting causes, and to commerce. He was inducted into The Australian Property Hall of Fame in May 2017, for his sustained and visionary leadership, for his contribution to the industry and the nation, and for a legacy that stands the test of time.

Ceremony 12 – Wednesday 15 December 2021 – 5.00pm

Mr Peter Graham

Mr Graham will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Letters and will deliver the Occasional Address

Peter Thomas Graham is the Principal at PTG Consulting and former Chief Executive Officer of Pacific Power, a NSW State owned electricity generator, coal miner and engineering services provider.

Peter also spent six years as Director of Group Operations at Fairfax, Australasia’s largest newspaper publisher, where he was responsible for major projects, publishing services, printing, distribution, information technology and human resources, across the Australian business.

For three years, Peter held the position of Chief Operating Officer at the University of New South Wales, and more recently, he was the Executive General Manager, Group Services at Downer EDI, where he was responsible for the integration of service functions from within the six subsidiary companies of Downer, into a single services organisation.

A long-time resident of Western Sydney, Peter raised his family in the Penrith area with his wife Bez, and is passionate about supporting the local community. He was past President of Nepean High School’s P&C for five years and the founding member and Executive of the Emu Plains Little Athletics Club. Peter is also a mentor for the Panthers on the Prowl Building Young Men Program for local Year 10 students.

Motivated by a strong interest in community development and growth, Peter joined the Board of the Panthers Rugby League club in 2016 and is a Director of the Panthers on the Prowl Community Development Foundation. He has also been a member of the Board of Uniting Care and Director of Emu Plains Sports Club.

For more than a decade, Peter has been a strong supporter of Western Sydney University. He has been a member of the University Infrastructure Committee since 2010 and was the Chair of the Western Sydney University International College Board from 2015 to 2020.

Peter has completed an Associate Diploma in Business at this University and is a Graduate of Harvard Business School. He is also a Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

It is an honour for me to announce to all gathered here today that the Board of Trustees of Western Sydney University has resolved to confer the award of Doctor of Letters, honoris causa, on Mr Peter Thomas Graham in recognition of his significant contribution to Western Sydney University.

Ceremony 13 – Thursday 16 December 2021 – 9.30am

Mr Guan Wei

Mr Guan Wei will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Creative Arts and will deliver the Occasional Address

Guan Wei is a visual artist whose body of work spans four decades and remarkably includes 73 solo and 269 group exhibitions. He is an iconic figure in the Australian contemporary art scene and critically acclaimed internationally. His work explores many of the issues faced by society, such as climate change, identity and migration. Praised for its intellectual depth, originality, humanity and sharp sense of humour, his work is a blend of past and present, east and west, and personal and collective experience.

Mr Guan first came to Australia in 1989 as an artist-in-residence at the University of Tasmania, and in 1993 became a permanent resident. With the assistance of an Australia Council grant in 2008, he set up a studio in Beijing and has made significant contributions to the art exchanges between Australia and China over many years.

His work Nesting, or the Art of Idleness was the Museum of Contemporary Art’s first solo exhibition by a Chinese Australian artist. The Museum later commissioned Guan Wei to create the mural, The Journey to Australia, as well as the Guan Wei: MCA Collection, which showed his mural Feng Shui, and the 48-piece artwork, Two-Finger Exercise. His piece, Gazing into Deep Space No. 9, earned him the Art Gallery of NSW’s Sir John Sulman Prize in 2002, and -his work, Under the Southern Cross, was included in The Sydney 2000 Olympic Fine Art Collection.

In one of its largest exhibitions, the Powerhouse Museum curated Other Histories: Guan Wei’s Fable for a Contemporary World. Through this exhibition, Mr Guan expressed hope that visitors would be encouraged to reflect on our common humanity. He said “the world is full of beauty and things that hold a strange fascination. We, who come from different cultural backgrounds, need to better understand one another, connect with one another and seek friendship with one another. It is imperative that we find a shared set of values to ensure our survival.”

Guan Wei has a long-standing association with and has made valuable contributions to Western Sydney University and the region more broadly. Currently, he is a member of the University’s Institute for Australian and Chinese Arts and Culture Advisory Board where he plays an active role in guiding and advising the Institute on its art activities as well as helping it to expand its networks.

Ceremony 14 – Thursday 16 December 2021 – 12 noon

Professor Peter Hutchings

Professor Hutchings will be accorded the title Emeritus Professor and will deliver the Occasional Address

Professor Peter Hutchings has made an immense contribution to Western Sydney University as Pro Vice-Chancellor, Dean, and Provost. He has held various leadership roles at the University since 1997, when he was appointed as Head of the School of Arts and Communication.

He successfully led the School through many changes, including the establishment of The College of Arts, Education and Social Sciences in 2001, while he was the Head of the School of Humanities. In 2002, Professor Hutchings became the Associate Dean (Academic) for the College. His colleagues describe him as a leader who is a natural born educator with a genuine vision for the humanities, and a passion for teaching and research.

From 2008 to 2010, Professor Hutchings contributed to the humanities discipline and academia more broadly when he took on a new opportunity and joined the Australian Learning and Teaching Council, first as Deputy Director, Programs and Networks; then as Director, Grants, Awards, and Fellowships; and finally as General Manager, Programs and Engagement.

Returning to Western Sydney University in 2010, as Head of the School of Humanities and -Languages, Professor Hutchings’ value as a leader was further acknowledged with his appointments as Provost of the Bankstown campus in 2011 and later, in 2020, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences Cluster– a significant role that utilised his expertise in ensuring the success of the new University academic structure.

Under the guidance of Professor Hutchings, the University’s humanities and social sciences research reputation has been fundamental to the growth of the institution’s overall reputation, nationally and internationally. He has been integral to the establishment and success of the Writing and Society Research Centre and the Sydney Review of Books, both of which have been unique flagship operations of the University, and have fostered creative practice across the region.

Professor Hutchings has lent his considerable experience and assistance to University wide initiatives, including the development of new cohorts of research excellence through the Strategic Research Initiatives. His continued support of early and emerging research leaders has fostered research ambitions and provided new pathways for research success. His contribution to several University committees, including as Chair of the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences Cluster Board, Chair of the Board of Studies, College of Arts and the School Work Plan Committee have been greatly valued by the University.

Ceremony 15 – Thursday 16 December 2021 – 2.30pm

Reverend Dr Manas Ghosh

Reverend Ghosh will receive a Community Fellowship and will deliver the Occasional Address

Reverend Dr Manas Kumar Ghosh is the minster of St John’s Uniting Church at Wahroonga, and former minister of Leigh Memorial Uniting Church at Parramatta.

Born and raised in a devout Christian family in India, Reverend Ghosh’s early faith was shaped by his parents’ Christian practices, his time spent in Sunday school and the experience of growing up in a religiously diverse society. The Reverend fondly recalls sharing Easter and Christmas with his local community, and experiencing the joy of Diwali, Vesak and Eid celebrations with his friends and neighbours.

Reverend Ghosh has studied in both India and Australia, completing Bachelors’ degrees in the disciplines of Science, Arts and Theology; a Master’s degree in Theology; and a Doctor of Ministry. He blends his academic and theological knowledge with his work experiences in both secular and religious domains in India, Australia and other countries.  He spent 14 years as an accredited lay preacher in India, before commencing ministering in Australia in 1996, where he has worked in some of the most culturally and religiously diverse communities in New South Wales.

His passion for social justice, peace and communal harmony is evident through his work with asylum seekers and refugees, and in leading peace services and interfaith events.  For nearly 20 years, Reverend Ghosh has organised an interfaith prayer service to mark the International Day of Peace, and has hosted a number of Community Peace Dinners at the Leigh Memorial Uniting Church. These dinners have brought people of different faiths and cultural backgrounds together to mark the beginning of the Christmas season.

Reverend Ghosh has been involved in the organisation of The Abraham Conference, an annual interfaith event that brings people of Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths together to discuss contemporary issues. In addition, he was a guest speaker for the Australian Christian Movement NSW online discussion series, leading a session titled Building relationships with people of other faiths. Reverend Ghosh is also the Chair of the Interfaith Commission of the NSW Ecumenical Council.

Ceremony 16 – Thursday 16 December 2021 – 5.00pm

Dr Patricia Jenkings, President NSW Division and Vice-President, National, United Nations Association of Australia

Dr Jenkings will deliver the Occasional Address

Ceremony 17 – Friday 17 December 2021 – 9.30am

Dr Ian Oppermann, NSW Government Chief Data Scientist and Industry Professor, UTS

Dr Oppermann will deliver the Occasional Address

Ceremony 18 – Friday 17 December 2021 – 12 noon

Uncle Greg Simms

Uncle Greg Simms will receive an Honorary Fellowship and will deliver the Occasional Address

Uncle Greg Simms is a highly respected Aboriginal Elder, well known for his activism in reconciliation, his dedication to community outreach, and for his role as a leading educator of Aboriginal culture. He is a traditional woodcarver and storyteller, descending from the Gundungurra (water dragon lizard people) of the Blue Mountains, the Gadigal (whale people) of the Dharug nation and the Budawang (beach plover people) of the Yuin nation.

Born in 1949, Uncle Greg grew up on an Aboriginal Reserve in La Perouse and was the youngest of a large family. At around the age of six he began to learn the traditional ways of making tools such as digging sticks and woomeras. In 1984, Uncle Greg moved to the Western Sydney suburb of Mt Druitt, which he now calls home.

After working in manual labour for many years, Uncle Greg began facilitating cultural awareness programs in Western Sydney schools in the 90’s, as well as starting a dance troupe and teaching traditional wood carving. For the past 25 years, he has continued to demonstrate a remarkable commitment to the community and to keeping Aboriginal traditions alive. He has been involved in countless welcome to country services, smoking ceremonies and storytelling activities, and regularly visits local schools to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land, using sticks and smoking rituals.

In 2011, Uncle Greg joined Ability Options in Mt Druitt as an Aboriginal Community Liaison Officer and remains actively engaged with the local community. He has been acknowledged for his cultural contributions to a number of organisations and operations, including the MetWest Domestic Violence Forum, the Blue Mountains Department of Family and Community Services, and the Endeavour Energy Diversity and Inclusion Council, to name a few. In 2015, he was appointed as an Elder in a trial of the Koori Court in Parramatta, providing support and cultural guidance to young Aboriginal offenders in an effort to stop the cycle of offending and decrease the rate of incarceration of Aboriginal youth. He is also a member of the Mt Druitt and District Reconciliation Group, an ambassador and Elder for the Western Sydney Community Forum, and works as a key community partner with the not-for-profit organisation Youth Off the Streets.

Uncle Greg has made outstanding contributions to this University over the past decade. He is a member of the Indigenous Elders Advisory Committee, providing advice on matters relating to Indigenous culture and people, and on matters impacting the Indigenous community in Greater Western Sydney. In this role, Uncle Greg also assists in building Indigenous cultural viability and knowledge across the University and provides support to Indigenous staff and students.

Uncle Greg has been involved in programs for both current and future Indigenous students, working with Indigenous staff to implement opportunities that will benefit the community for generations to come. He has generously provided his knowledge and wisdom to the University’s initiatives targeting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander school students, including the Heartbeat Program and the Pathways to Dreaming Program.

In 2014, Uncle Greg received a Community Award from this University and in 2020, he was awarded a Creative Development Scholarship from Magabala Books.


8 December 2021

Media Unit

Photo Credit: Sally Tsoutas