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Rare PhD conferred at Alice graduation

By Patrick Nelson

Director Central Australia Paul Fitzsimons (left) congratulates mace bearer and PhD recipient Dr Don Zoellner Director Central Australia Paul Fitzsimons (left) congratulates mace bearer and PhD recipient Dr Don Zoellner

Charles Darwin University celebrated a rare academic achievement in Alice Springs when long-time Territory educator Don Zoellner collected his doctoral testamur at the annual graduation ceremony recently.

Dr Zoellner, a former pro vice-chancellor of the university, is believed to be just the third person in Alice Springs to have graduated with a PhD, 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 have been able to 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 carried the ceremonial mace into the graduation ceremony at the Alice Springs Convention Centre, where about 650 students were acknowledged for their academic achievements.

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, he said.

“We celebrated 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.”