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New VC shows impact of education

By Robyn McDougall

President and Vice-Chancellor of CDU, Professor Simon Maddocks President and Vice-Chancellor of CDU, Professor Simon Maddocks

In his youth, Simon Maddocks aspired to carve out a life on the land, but that was before he set foot in a university.

Professor Simon Maddocks is a clear example of how education transforms lives. The once aspiring farmer grew up in Papua New Guinea and enrolled in a Bachelor of Agricultural Science at the University of Adelaide to prepare for life on the land, but the experience of education opened up a suite of other possibilities and shut the gate on a farming career.

“Once I began my undergraduate degree, there was no going back. My lecturers saw potential in me and encouraged me, and I was soon hooked on research,” he said.

Professor Maddocks is one of Australia’s leading agricultural scientists, specialising in animal reproductive physiology and immunology.

He is also the third Vice-Chancellor of Charles Darwin University (CDU), having taken up the position late last month after a long career in university administration and with the Department of Primary Industries in South Australia.

Professor Maddocks, who is based on Casuarina campus in Darwin, said he was looking forward to visiting each of CDU’s campuses and centres across the Territory and interstate, and to reinforcing and further developing relationships with industry partners and government.

He said his highest priority this year would be to bed down some of the new initiatives that began at CDU in 2013.

“I don't anticipate lots of radical change. We need to focus first and to settle into the new buildings that are about to come on line at Casuarina and at the Darwin Waterfront.”

Professor Maddocks is well acquainted with the Northern Territory, having been a member of the Governing Board of the Menzies School of Health Research for 20 years and its Chair for the past 10.

After he gained his PhD, in 1987 Professor Maddocks received the prestigious Sir Robert Menzies Memorial Scholarship in Medicine, the first non-medical graduate to receive this award.

His academic work has taken him to the United Kingdom, the United States and on to the boards of some of the most important national research bodies in Australia.

He has extensive leadership experience at senior levels of both academia and government. He was formerly with the Department of Primary Industries and Regions, South Australian Research and Development Institute, most recently as Director of Science Partnerships. Before that, he was Director of the University of Adelaide’s Roseworthy campus and Professor of Animal Science.

Professor Maddocks is a Fellow of the Institute of Company Directors and the Australian Institute of Agricultural Science and Technology.

And while he followed the research path, he also reached his dream of owning a farm, albeit later in life and of the “hobby” variety.