Skip to main content

Vale Dame Leonie Kramer

21 April 2016

The University of Sydney expresses its condolences to Dame Leonie Kramer's family and her large community of friends, following news of the passing of the former chancellor. 

The University of Sydney community was saddened to hear of the passing of former chancellor Dame Leonie Kramer AC DBE (MA ’89, D.Litt.(Honoris Causa) ’09). A dedicated and resonating figure in the University, Dame Leonie was always a powerful champion of effective education.

Her early years as an academic were built around her passion for Australian literature, with her books and fearless intellectual rigour stimulating vigorous debate in the arts community.

Her talent and unique energy in this field led to her appointment, in 1968, as Professor of Australian Literature at the University of Sydney. Dame Leonie was the first female professor to be appointed in the University of Sydney and so started her long association with the organisation. 

Possessing a formidable work ethic, Dame Leonie served on an long and wide-ranging list of boards and committees, many related to education and the arts. She was a member of the boards of the St Vincent's Hospital, the Queen Elizabeth II Trust and the International Advisory Committee of Encyclopaedia Britannica. She also served as chair of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and commissioner of the Electricity Commission of New South Wales.

The Chancellor Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir AC CVO (left) conferring the honorary degree upon Emeritus Professor Dame Leonie Kramer AC DBE (right), photo, copyright Memento Photography.

She brought this experience to bear in the University in 1989, when she became deputy chancellor, before taking on the role of chancellor from 1991 to 2001, when she retired.

“In Dame Leonie we have not only lost a valued member of the University community, but also a significant figure in public life,” said Vice-Chancellor and Principal Dr Michael Spence. “The University expresses its condolences to Dame Leonie’s family and her large community of friends.”

Once described as one of the most influential private citizens in Australia, Dame Leonie made a hugely effective contribution to the University of Sydney that helped bring it to where it is today. She will always be a significant figure in the University’s history.


This article was updated on 21 April to reflect the fact that Dame Leonie was not the first female professor in Australia but among the first female professors at the University of Sydney. She was the University's second professor of Australian Literature. This article was updated on 27 April to reflect the fact that Dame Leonie was the first female professor to be appointed in the University of Sydney.