It’s no coincidence that the impressive and transformative 15-year span of QUT’s development has aligned with the stewardship of outgoing QUT Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Coaldrake AO.
The university is a vastly different place today, thanks to his outstanding leadership and commitment to excellence across our research, learning and teaching, and commitment to establishing world-class facilities.
From 2018, QUT will have a new Vice-Chancellor. Professor Margaret Sheil AO was selected from a field of distinguished candidates, all keen to lead one of the world’s top young universities. Find out more…
“Peter Coaldrake’s academic and professional work has been underscored by a commitment to equitable access to higher education. He is someone with a firm belief in reciprocity, that it is incumbent on those with privilege to give something back.”
QUT Chancellor Tim Fairfax AC
Professor Sheil will lead a university that truly is for today’s real world.
QUT’s leaders, students, staff and alumni have all helped forge our strong national and international reputation for innovation and excellence.
QIT became QUT—a university for the real world—back in 1989.
The then Vice-Chancellor, Professor Dennis Gibson AO, guided the new university through its first 14 years, before Professor Coaldrake was appointed to the top job in 2003.
Pause for a moment and think about the world, circa 2003.
It was the year Wikipedia.org, Skype and LinkedIn all launched. Nokia was the best-selling mobile phone (iPhones were still four years away). John Howard was in The Lodge and George W. Bush was in the White House. O Week students were listening to the latest hits on their brand new iPod Classics.
At QUT, L Block—affectionately known as Brisbane’s ugliest building—still stood at Gardens Point, and green grass stretched from Kelvin Grove campus all the way down the hill to Kelvin Grove Road.
“Peter’s a very good strategic thinker, he’s very hands on… He’s very interested in all aspects of the university and has a strong commitment to achievement and excellence.”
Professor Carol Dickenson AM
QUT Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor
But change was coming.
Over the next 15 years, a massive program of infrastructure works transformed QUT’s campuses to provide today’s world-class facilities for our students and researchers.
The Cube and SEC have been central to three highly successful Robotronica festivals (2013, 2015, 2017)—high-tech engagement events that link QUT’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) expertise with the community.
Another successful festival, CreateX, attracted thousands to the Creative Industries Precinct at Kelvin Grove when its digitally enhanced $88 million second stage opened in 2016.
While the future is in sharp focus for QUT, the past is also cherished.
Professor Coaldrake was chair of the Queensland Heritage Council from 2011 to 2016 and chaired Queensland’s 150th anniversary celebrations in 2009.
“One of the most distinctive qualities of QUT is its emphasis on real-world outcomes and I think Peter Coaldrake is greatly responsible for steering QUT in that direction. Peter has a terrific ability to build bridges across donors and government. Having government as a dawn route is really critical to achieving the kind of impact a university like QUT is seeking to have.”
Chris Oechsli, President and CEO, The Atlantic Philanthropies
He championed QUT’s five-year, $15 million award-winning restoration of Old Government House at Gardens Point— which re-opened to the public as part of the Q150 anniversary celebrations.
He has also championed equitable access to tertiary education.
QUT’s perpetual Learning Potential Fund (LPF) is the largest fund of its type in Australia and supports the QUT Equity Scholarships Scheme, which helps 3000 bright and ambitious low-income students each year, including Indigenous students.
QUT’s culture of giving means staff lead from the front, with hundreds making donations via the payroll.
This giving is echoed in the wider community—and some of the world’s most generous philanthropists.
Chuck Feeney’s The Atlantic Philanthropies has donated more than $65 million to major projects such as IHBI and SEC. And the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has backed a decade of QUT’s “golden banana” research—now coming to fruition and set to make a dramatic and positive impact on African nutrition.
“QUT has been transformed under his leadership, while maintaining high levels of staff satisfaction and staff giving to philanthropy. It is testament to his ability to combine clear vision and decision making with care and respect for others.”
QUT Chancellor Tim Fairfax AC
As a dual Fulbright Scholar, Professor Coaldrake knows firsthand the value of international research and education collaborations and has served as chair of the Australian-American Fulbright Commission, as well as chair of Universities Australia.
He and the university are also proud of QUT’s eight Rhodes Scholars, with five elected in the six years from 2011 to 2016.
Named a Queensland Great in June 2017, Professor Coaldrake’s diverse background—including his childhood growing up with adoptive parents on a remote Aboriginal settlement—was highlighted in a Courier-Mail QWeekend feature in 2015.
During his final year at QUT he has also been honoured with the annual CASE Asia-Pacific Leadership Award in recognition of his inspirational guidance and development of a strong culture