An alumnus of the University of Sydney, Dr Roderick Kater was conferred as an Honorary Fellow of the University in a ceremony on Wednesday 9 March, presided over by Presiding Pro-Chancellor, Dr Barry Catchlove AM.
“We were delighted to name Dr Roderick Kater an Honorary Fellow of the University,” Chancellor of the University of Sydney, Belinda Hutchinson AC, said. “Dr Kater has made an extraordinary contribution to the University community over the years, and his commitment to philanthropy and education has allowed the institution to foster significant research projects with ongoing, real-world impact.”
Born in 1936 to a prominent family of medical practitioners and pastoralists, Dr Kater began his studies at the University in the Bachelor of Veterinary Science, before following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather – both doctors – and transferring to second year Medicine.
After graduating from a Bachelor of Medicine in 1961, Dr Kater practised as resident, registrar and research fellow at both John Hopkins Hospital and Harvard Medical School, before beginning his tenure as a gastroenterologist and Honorary Medical Officer at Sydney’s Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.
Dr Kater has made an extraordinary contribution to the University community over the years, and his commitment to philanthropy and education has allowed the institution to foster significant research projects with ongoing, real-world impact.
Strong ties to the farming world saw Dr Kater’s interests in medicine and farming merge in the 1990s, when he was appointed as Chief Medical Officer of the Australian Mutual Provident Society. From there, he went on to sit on several boards and committees in the farming industry; including as Chairman of the Stanbroke Pastoral Company, where he was partially responsible for growing the company’s cattle numbers to 650,000 head.
Despite retiring from medicine in 2001 to focus on cattle production, Dr Kater retained a strong presence in the medical community. As consultant to the trustees of a prominent, anonymous philanthropic foundation, he used his influence to support the establishment of a Travelling Fellowship in Medicine and the Allied Sciences of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, as well as establishing the AW Morrow Chair of Medicine in Gastroenterology at the University.
Dr Kater’s passion for sustainable agriculture – coupled with a desire to invest in our collective future – saw him work to foster an ongoing relationship between the University and the Foundation. Over the years, this relationship has resulted in $14 million in carefully targeted gifts and grants, including a gift toward the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences’ Power Polemics program, and $1 million towards research into nutrition and healthy ageing at the Charles Perkins Centre.
In 2015, Dr Kater’s personal interests led to a generous gift of $1.6 million to support the University’s Farmbot for the People project. With a central goal of making technology more accessible to average farmers, the project saw researchers from the University’s Faculty of Engineering develop two robotic platforms – the Digital Farmhand and the Swagbot. Such technology has the power to help farmers across the world and will enable farming processes to be healthier, cleaner, and more sustainable for all.