19 September 2023

100,000 University of Canberra grads – and just as many chances for change

| Suzanne Lazaroo
Start the conversation
Rows of graduates are pictured, one smiling at the camera, at a University of Canberra graduation ceremony.

The University of Canberra celebrates the milestone of reaching 100,000 alums this September 2023. Photos: University of Canberra.

For retired accountant Edward ‘Ted’ Antoney, being the very first graduate to receive his testamur from the Canberra College of Advanced Education (CCAE) in 1973 was simply a matter of luck.

“It was having a surname starting with ‘A’ – and the fact that I did a Bachelor of Arts in Accounting!” Ted says.

But when it came to his successful, decades-long career as an accountant, including working with the Commonwealth Grants Commission, Postmaster-General’s Department and Department of Defence, he says it was down to his hard work, diligence, and the valuable foundation he received from the CCAE, which became the University of Canberra (UC) in 1990.

“My time at the CCAE definitely helped my career. The accounting degree was widely recognised, and so we were able to go out into the big bad world after graduating and make a name for ourselves,” he says.

man looking at a student hall

First-ever CCAE/UC graduate Edward ‘Ted’ Antoney checks out the UC Refectory, the institution’s hall when he was enrolled.

This September, Ted counts himself part of a now 100,000-strong alum community, as UC marks the significant milestone.

“This is something for us all to celebrate as a community, including our staff, students, graduands, alumni, families and friends,” UC Vice-Chancellor Professor Paddy Nixon says.

“When you think of the health infrastructure of the ACT, UC is the foundation on which it is built. When we think about the education of our children, UC is at the heart of every school. When you think about how we plan the future of the city and region, our students and alums are helping to guide and provide support every step of the way.”

A black-and-white aerial view of a graduation ceremony at the University of Canberra in the 1970s. Rows of graduates face a stage on which a speaker stands.

A graduation ceremony at the University of Canberra in the 1970s.

Change-making UC alums include Ian Wishart, CEO of the Fred Hollows Foundation; Betty Kitchener AM, who co-founded Mental Health First Aid training; Alasdair Roy OAM, one of Australia’s leading child rights specialists, renowned architect George El Khouri OAM, who oversaw the interior fit out for Australia’s Parliament House and Australian swimmer and Olympic gold medallist Petria Thomas OAM – to name just a few.

“As a university, it is the quality of our graduates that is by far our most significant achievement; we are very proud of the impact of their work, of their lives,” Paddy says.

Lieutenant Colonel Geoff Grey holds a conductor's baton aloft.

Newly minted UC alumnus Lieutenant Colonel Dr Geoff Grey, artistic director and chief conductor of the Australian Wind Symphony and artistic director of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) Arts for Recovery, Resilience, Teamwork and Skills (ARRTS) program. Photo: Geoff Grey.

Making an impact is par for the course for Lieutenant Colonel Geoff Grey, artistic director and chief conductor of the Australian Wind Symphony. The newly “Dr” Grey attained his PhD at UC this year.

Among his many achievements, Geoff has an ARIA Gold record with the Australian Army Band Sydney and was the music director for Queen Elizabeth II’s last two visits.

His work as artistic director of the Australian Defence Force, Arts for Recovery, Resilience, Teamwork and Skills (ARRTS) program forms an important part of his legacy.

Geoff helped develop the program that aims to build the confidence and resilience of ADF, ACT Emergency Services, and Australian Federal Police personnel, and former personnel who have transitioned to civilian life in the last three years via creative engagement.

The qualitative PhD he completed at UC explored its benefits and impact on participants.

“The PhD journey was not easy for me. I had to learn a language and discipline different from what I do as an artist and performing musician,” Geoff says.

“Nonetheless, the PhD process was an exceptionally rewarding challenge that, perhaps ironically, taught me a lot more about my own ideals for the ADF ARRTS program than I thought it would.”

They are ideals he continues to build on as the ARRTS program resumes at UC in October 2023.

Geoff is now exploring opportunities for creative engagement to be more available for training and deployed personnel – just one of the many members of the UC community striving to change things for the better.

The second round of 2023 graduation ceremonies for the University of Canberra began yesterday (18 September) and concludes today.


Start the conversation

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.