Profile: Emeritus Professor Ross Milbourne AO

Ross Milbourne completed his Bachelor and Masters degrees in Commerce at the University of New South Wales in 1971 and 1974 respectively. He was awarded his PhD in 1978 from the University of California, Berkeley, where he was under the supervision of the Nobel laureate George Akerlof. Establishing his international career he worked at Queen’s University in Canada from 1978-1988. During this period he took up two prestigious short term appointments as Reserve Bank of Australia Senior Fellow in Economic Policy (1981-82) and Visiting Professor to the London School of Economics (1985-86). In 1989 he returned to Australia as Professor of Economics at the University of New South Wales.

Professor Milbourne’s excellence in research underpinned his appointment to the Australian Research Council (ARC) Social Sciences Panel in 1994 and Panel Chair in 1995-6. From 1997-2000 he served as Chair, Research Grants Committee and a board member of the ARC. In 1995 in recognition of his scholarly standing and service to research he was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences of Australia (FASSA).

Professor Milbourne was appointed Vice-Chancellor of the University of Technology, Sydney in 2002 having played leadership roles in Australian universities since 1997. These positions were: Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), University of Adelaide (1997-2000); Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research), UNSW (2000-01); Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), University of Technology, Sydney (2001-02).

Professor Milbourne is recognised internationally as an economist and researcher who has had considerable influence on education, research and innovative policy. As a Board member of Universities Australia (UA), he has played a pivotal role in the determination and formulation of public policy, and advocating on behalf of Australia’s universities. Also, through his leadership role with the Australian Technology Network of Universities (ATN) he has supported an emergence of an influential, innovative and strategically positioned network of universities across Australia. The esteem in which he is held by the Australian Government is evidenced by his appointments to major policy-oriented committees and reviews and the award of the Centenary Medal in 2001 for service to Australian society through economics and university administration.

When Professor Milbourne took on the role of Vice-Chancellor at UTS he was faced with the challenge of how to create a profile and reputation for research and teaching in a recently-established university. UTS has made great strides in world rankings and the University’s achievements and success against these ratings and rankings is greatly due to the initiative and drive shown by Professor Milbourne.

During his time at UTS, Professor Milbourne engaged with and addressed many aspects of the university’s administration, academic and local community issues and oversaw and supported initiatives to improve outcomes for indigenous staff and students. The establishment of the Vice-Chancellor’s Industry Advisory Board in 2009 ensured that teaching and research programs remained industry-relevant. His personal commitment to equity greatly assisted the University in receiving a citation from the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency (EOWWA) every year since the award commenced in 2001. In 2009 he was named Australia’s Leading CEO for the Advancement of Women. Under Professor Milbourne’s guidance, the University has created teaching and learning programs and experiences that prepare graduates for professional careers in the global markets.

Professor Milbourne has led a major development of the physical campus and the University’s infrastructure to provide world class and innovative facilities for the next 20 years and beyond. The physical precinct includes an iconic building designed by internationally renowned architect Frank Gehry.

Professor Milbourne has repeatedly demonstrated his passion for Higher Education, and his deep belief that everyone should share equitable access to education, particularly at a tertiary level. He forms visionary goals and inspires others to believe that they are achievable. Energy, compassion and commitment are hallmarks of Professor Milbourne’s reputation nationally and internationally, and they are integral to everything he does.

Professor Milbourne has ensured that UTS has built its profile as an innovative university that meets the current and future needs of industry and the community.

It is a great honour for the University of Technology, Sydney to award Professor Ross Milbourne an Honorary Degree of Doctor of the University (honoris causa) in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the achievement of the University’s mission, as well as enhancing its reputation and standing at a national and international level.