The University of South Australia community has paid tribute to one of the most influential leaders in the history of the University and in higher education in Australia, Professor Denise Bradley who died peacefully this morning (March 20 2020).
A fierce advocate for the vital role of education in transforming lives, as a leader at UniSA and then its Vice Chancellor for 10 years, Prof Bradley ensured equity was a foundational goal for the university and one that was always reinforced in its culture and practice.
In her own career, she battled all the pervasive stereotypes of her era about working women, married women, and women with children, and carved out a brilliant career that took her from high school teacher, to one of the most respected leaders in higher education in Australia.
UniSA Vice Chancellor Professor David Lloyd says Denise had one of best understandings of higher education in the nation and dedicated her career to making changes that would see more women, more Aboriginal people and more people from low social and economic backgrounds have the transformational opportunity of a good education.
“She understood very clearly that education not only empowers individuals but transforms whole societies,” Prof Lloyd says.
“Her influence on university sector governance and policy leadership has been extraordinary.
“The Bradley Review of Higher Education set vital benchmarks for higher education participation, designed to ensure Australia could justify its claim as ‘the clever country’.
“At this University, she set the tone for what it was to be one of the new Dawkins universities – places unshackled by tradition, where optimism, industry connectivity and inclusion were foundational values and where more Australians, from more diverse backgrounds would start to build their careers.
“As Vice Chancellor, Denise grew UniSA and changed the outlook of the University to one that was internationally focussed and engaged, and a trusted leader in international education in the region.”
Among an impressive register of accolades, Prof Bradley was an Officer of the Order of Australia in 1995; a recipient of a Centenary Medal in 2003; named South Australian of the Year in 2005; made a Companion of the Order of Australia in 2008; and was conferred the prestigious College Medal by the Australian College of Educators in 2011. She was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from UniSA in 2007.
“The University of South Australia would not be the institution it is today without the insightful and determined leadership Denise provided more than a decade ago,” Prof Lloyd says.
“Her passion, her willingness to challenge the status quo, her understanding that change and adaptability, or as she would say, being “fleet of foot” is a tool for success – these qualities are now part of UniSA – part of our shared DNA…our enterprising spirit.
“We will miss her insights, her incisive wit and her wise counsel.
“Our thoughts and sympathies are with her husband, her children and grandchildren.”