Charles Darwin University will celebrate a rare academic achievement in Alice Springs when long-time Territory educator Don Zoellner collects his doctoral testamur at the annual graduation ceremony this week.
Dr Zoellner, a former pro vice-chancellor of the university, is believed to be just the third person from Alice Springs to graduate with a PhD from the Territory’s own university, and the first male.
Director Central Australia Paul Fitzsimons said it was a spectacular achievement that would inspire other doctoral candidates and researchers in the Centre.
“I am delighted that after three long years of solid study, we can congratulate Dr Zoellner, and note his achievement in the context of our special 25th anniversary celebrations,” Mr Fitzsimons said.
“His analysis into policy development and the implementation of vocational education and training is a demonstration of creative and robust thinking into a complex and sometimes puzzling domain.”
Mr Fitzsimons said Dr Zoellner had been invited to carry the ceremonial mace into the graduation ceremony at the Alice Springs Convention Centre this Thursday, when about 650 students would be acknowledged for their academic achievements.
“While many of our students are interstate, overseas or out bush, I am delighted that about 100 graduands have signalled their intention to attend the graduation ceremony,” he said.
“Not only is the completion of an award always a significant milestone in every student’s learning journey, but it is the mark of acquired skills, knowledge and confidence for a brighter future.”
Mr Fitzsimons said that in keeping with CDU’s role as the largest training organisation in Central Australia, most graduands were from the Faculty of Vocational Education and Training.
“Students from fields as diverse as automotive technology, business and youth work will graduate next week,” he said.
“We will also celebrate with students from the Faculty of Engineering, Health, Science and the Environment, the Faculty of Law, Education, Business and Arts, and the Australian Centre for Indigenous Knowledges and Education.”
Mr Fitzsimons said CDU’s mid-year round of graduation events had been extended to five for the first time this year.
“There were three events in Darwin last month, but significantly, we will hold our first interstate graduation event in Adelaide tomorrow (17 June) before concluding with the ceremony here in Alice Springs on Thursday.”