WAIT Chairs and Curtin Chancellors

As head of WAIT and Curtin’s governing bodies, these esteemed individuals have helped shape the direction of the developing institution. Many are remembered through the naming of buildings and campus facilities.

Head shot of Thomas Robertson

Dr Thomas (Blue) Robertson

WAIT Chair, 1967-1969

WAIT came about thanks to the vision and efforts of four key figures in Western Australia’s post-war educational scene, including the WA Director of Education, Dr Thomas Logan Robertson. He was an educational visionary who had the foresight to buy up the land in Bentley where WAIT would eventually be built and he secured critical political support for WAIT’s development. Dr Robertson chaired the Interim Council of the newly formed Institute and had been chairman of the full WAIT Council for only a few months when he died suddenly in 1969. In recognition of his enormous contribution to WAIT, the Institute’s large new library (which opened in 1971) was named after him.

Head shot of Roy Henderson

Dr Roy Halliday Henderson

WAIT Chair, 1969-1976

Dr Roy Henderson made a significant contribution to the demanding and important early days of WAIT as a member of its Interim Council, chosen for his experience in the business sector. He became Chairman of the full Council following the sudden passing of Dr Robertson and proved a popular and effective Chair, known for his good humour, willingness to hear all viewpoints and his skills in achieving consensus. After serving two terms, his contribution was recognised when he received the first Honorary Doctor of Technology conferred by WAIT in 1976, and a central interior courtyard of the Perth campus near the Robertson Library was named after him.

Head shot of Alan Barblett

Hon Justice Alan Barblett AO

WAIT Chair, 1976-1985

A practising lawyer who held many senior positions in the legal sector, the Hon Justice Alan Barblett joined the WAIT Council as a legal adviser before becoming its Chair in 1976.  A gifted sportsman – he was a member of Australia’s 1956 Olympic hockey team – he played a key role in attracting the state hockey stadium to the WAIT campus. The naming of Barblett Oval near the Kent Street entrance to the Perth Campus recognised both his outstanding contribution to WAIT and his participation in, and support of, hockey in Western Australia. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Technology by WAIT in 1985.

Head shot of Peter Brinsden

Hon Justice Peter Brinsden AM QC

WAIT Chair, 1985-1986
Curtin Chancellor, 1987-1990

A Queens Counsel and President of the Law Council of Western Australia, the Hon Peter Brinsden was well known in state and national legal circles. He served as Justice of the Supreme Court of Western Australia from 1976 to 1990. In his role as Chair and then Chancellor, he oversaw WAIT’s transition to Curtin University of Technology. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Technology by Curtin in 1997.

Head shot of Harry Sorensen

Dr Harry Sorensen AO OBE CitWA

Curtin Chancellor, 1990-1996

Dr Harry Sorensen was an eminent Western Australian businessman, accountant and community leader. As well as being the managing director of the Challenge Bank, he was involved in many community and volunteer ventures and was honoured as a Western Australian Citizen of the Year and an Officer of the Order of Australia. He helped to champion the spirit of volunteering at Curtin, helping to enrich the student experience and expand the University’s community contributions.  He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Technology by Curtin in 1997.

Head shot of Harry Perkins

Dr Charles (Harry) Perkins AO CitWA

Curtin Chancellor, 1996-2002

Dr Harry Perkins was a much-admired Western Australian businessman, philanthropist and long-term Chair of Wesfarmers, who was deeply interested in higher education and research. As Chancellor, he strongly supported international education and Curtin’s move to establish its first overseas campus in Sarawak, Malaysia.  His Chancellorship was cut short by his untimely death in 2002. Dr Perkins was made an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2001 for his services to primary industry, tertiary education and the community and Curtin posthumously awarded him an Honorary Doctorate of Technology in 2002.

Head shot of Eric Tan

Dr Eric Tan AM CitWA

Curtin Chancellor, 2003-2006

A medical specialist well known in Western Australia in medical, business, science, technology and community spheres, Dr Eric Tan was a keen promoter of multiculturalism in Australia and was interested in forging closer ties between Australia and Asia. As Chancellor, he helped to build Curtin’s deep relationships in Malaysia, Indonesia and China. He was named a John Curtin Medallist in 1998 in recognition of his medical and social achievements and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Science by Curtin in 1996.

Head shot of Gordon Martin

Dr William (Gordon) Martin

Curtin Chancellor, 2006-2009

A prominent businessman with a background in the chemical and resources industry (including his long-term role as Executive Chairman of Coogee Chemicals), Dr Gordon Martin further enhanced Curtin’s engagement with industry, particularly in science and engineering, with the collaborative Resources and Chemistry Precinct developed on Curtin’s Perth campus during this time. He also championed a number of other key University initiatives:  the opening of Curtin’s second overseas campus in Singapore; the push to develop a medical school; and the development of a stronger philanthropic culture. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Technology by Curtin in 2010.

Head shot of Jim Gill

Dr James (Jim) Gill AO

Curtin Chancellor, 2010-2012

An eminent civil engineer and organisational leader, Dr Jim Gill was Western Australia’s Commissioner of Railways before becoming Chief Executive Officer of the WA Water Corporation.  As Curtin Chancellor, he supported several major initiatives to progress the University’s reputation and impact, chairing the initial steering committee for the Greater Curtin project, with its aims of transforming the Perth campus into a major urban hub for innovation and collaboration. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Technology by Curtin in 2014.

Head shot of Colin Beckett

Dr Colin Beckett

Curtin Chancellor, 2013-2018

An experienced global oil and gas senior executive, Dr Colin Beckett’s relationship with Curtin began in 2009 as a Member of the Faculty of Business and Law Advisory Council prior to him joining the University Council. As Chancellor, he helped steer the expansion of Curtin’s presence and industry connections in the Perth CBD and embraced the University’s global expansion with the establishment of new campuses in Dubai and Mauritius. He also oversaw significant progress on the University’s planning for Greater Curtin. He was awarded an Honorary Doctor of the University by Curtin in 2019.

Head shot of Andrew Crane

Dr Andy Crane

Curtin Chancellor, 2019-present

The former CEO of Australia’s largest grain exporter, CBH, Dr Andy Crane brings to Curtin significant experience in areas well aligned to Curtin’s future needs and aims: sustaining growth in complex environments, embracing the opportunities afforded by both technology and globalisation, and maintaining a strong sense of values-led organisational integrity.