Saturday, September 11, 2010

UNE Passings - death of Rob Robertson-Cuninghame

Gordon Smith kindly but sadly sent me news of the death of Dr Rob Robertson-Cuninghame. The VC's advice to the university community follows.

It is with great sadness and a sense of deep loss that together we formally announce the passing of Dr Robert Clarence Robertson-Cuninghame AO in his home this morning. Our deepest sympathies, and those of the University, are extended to his wife, Patricia, and to his family.

Known affectionately across campus as “Dr Rob”, he served this University in an official capacity through his involvement with UNE Council for more than 25 years. This included service as Deputy Chancellor (1971-1981) and then as UNE’s longest serving Chancellor from 1981 until 1993. From the point of his succession he remained keenly, passionately and centrally involved in the University’s Alumnus.

The University of New England remains our name today in significant part because of Dr Rob’s determined fight for its retention in 1988, when UNE proceeded to amalgamate with the Armidale and Northern Rivers Colleges of Advanced Education. In a letter of September 1988, Dr Rob responded to a proposal that the consolidation of these two institutions should lead to a renaming of our University, stating that:

“We are especially respected by the international community for our contributions to distance education, being one of the pioneers of this form of learning throughout the world …  We believe that one of our major assets is our name.”

Jordon, M., 2004, A Spirit of True Learning: The Jubilee History of the University of New England, UNSW Press, 2004, pp 225-6, Copyright of UNE.)

We thank him for his leading contribution to our history and reputation as a leading institution in distance education.

Dr Rob’s tireless contribution to this University will be remembered affectionately today and in the future.

At this time we can reflect on his immense legacy through UNE Council, the UNE Union, and his championing of advances in adult and outreach education. We also remember him as an outstanding academic, historian, and one of the finest members of the New England community.

Details of his Memorial Service will be circulated to all as soon as they are made.

I know that so many of those associated with UNE will remember him as a true gentleman whose total services to our university are hard to match. I will post further details as I learn them.


Richard Torbay posted an extremely nice tribute to Dr Robertson-Cuninghame.  

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