David Gonski AC awarded Doctor of Business

28 May 2024
Education reformer recognised for leadership in business, education and arts
David Gonski AC was today admitted to the degree of Doctor of Business (honoris causa) for his outstanding and visionary leadership, exceptional contribution to the business community and to education, and for his support of the arts.

Mr Gonski was admitted in a ceremony in the University of Sydney's Great Hall, presided over by Chancellor Belinda Hutchinson AC.  

“David is widely regarded as one of Australia’s most eminent business figures, and a champion of education and the arts,” Ms Hutchinson said.  

The Gonski Report became a roadmap to creating an equitable school funding system that would advance Australia’s global performance in the education sector.
Chancellor Belinda Hutchinson

"He is well known for chairing a vitally important committee making recommendations regarding education funding in Australia.

“A major output of this committee was the historic Gonski Report, identifying concerning trends in Australia’s education outcomes. The report became a roadmap to creating an equitable school funding system that would advance Australia’s global performance in the education sector.”

Born in South Africa, Mr Gonski and his family migrated to Australia in 1961. He attended Sydney Grammar School, where he was a champion debater, and was one of the first intakes of the University of NSW combined law and commerce degrees.

Mr Gonski’s distinguished career began as a solicitor at Freehills, where he became their youngest ever partner at 25. He left to establish the corporate advisory firm Wentworth Associates, which was later acquired by Investec Bank, where he became Chairman.

An adviser to media moguls Kerry Packer and Rupert Murdoch, and Director of John Fairfax Holdings, Mr Gonski was a key player during the evolution of the publishing industry amid the rise of the internet. 

David Gonski AC is awarded an Honorary Doctor of Business by Chancellor Belinda Hutchinson AC, with Business School Deputy Dean Professor Lemuria Carter (left) and Dean Professor Leisa Sargent (right).

Among his many achievements across a myriad of disciplines, Mr Gonski has been Chair of Coca-Cola Amatil, the Australian Securities Exchange, and ANZ Banking Group, and a Director of Singapore Airlines, the Westfield Group, and Singapore Telecommunications Limited.

In 2005, he returned to the University of NSW as Chancellor, becoming the first alumnus to hold this prestigious position. He had been Director of the UNSW Foundation since 1999, promoting philanthropy to support research, community engagement and the student experience. 

A champion of education and the arts, Mr Gonski is currently President of the Art Gallery of NSW Trust, a member of the Accelerating Research & Development in NSW Advisory Committee, and a Patron of the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation.

He has previously served as Chair of Australia Council for the Arts, the National Institute of Dramatic Art, and Sydney Theatre Company. 

Mr Gonski’s achievements and contributions to Australian society led to his appointment as a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) in 2007, Australia’s highest civilian honour, and he is a recipient of the Centenary Medal.

Honorary degrees are awarded to individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the wider community or who have achieved exceptional academic or creative excellence.

Today marked Ms Hutchinson’s 77th honorary award conferral and her 65th graduation ceremony, and her last before she steps down as Chancellor in July after nearly 12 years, the limit under the University's Senate Rules.

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