Lumen - The University of Adelaide Magazine The University of Adelaide Australia
Lumen Summer 2014 Issue
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Distinguished Alumni Award: Making of a future Prime Minister

Newly appointed Visiting Honourable Professor in Politics, Julia Gillard, admits she was nervous and a tad overawed when she first stepped foot on campus at the University of Adelaide back in 1979.

Her first year was spent studying for her law and arts degree and quietly soaking up university life.

"It was a big thing for me because I came from a family which didn't have a family culture of going to university," says the former Prime Minister.

But it was not long before the intellectual and political pursuits of university took hold. Her father was a keen Labor man and her arrival at university coincided with Malcolm Fraser's 'razor gang' cuts which were targeting education.

That, coupled with a new friendship with political activist Amanda Cornwall, daughter of future State Labor Minister John Cornwall, seeded a passion for politics which shaped her future.

"I got involved with the campaign against the cutbacks and we had a little bit of success around the country with the cuts somewhat moderated as a result," says Ms Gillard. "That was my first involvement and cutting of teeth in politics."

She became the first student president of the Adelaide University Union and her campaigning took her to Melbourne where she became President of the Australian Union of Students.

After an early career in law, Ms Gillard was elected to Parliament in 1998 and 12 years later was Australia's first female�Prime Minister.

She now plans to share her enormous wealth of experience on the international political stage in her new position as Visiting Professor in Politics at the University of Adelaide.

"I'm looking forward to doing some guest lecturing and hopefully I'll be able to provide some insights into the active world of Australian politics from the perspective I had as Prime Minister," says Ms Gillard.

"Over time I also definitely want to develop some sort of student internship, a program where someone can come and work with me in my capacity as a former Prime Minister at my co-located office at the University.

"And occasionally I'll be involved in activities that take me overseas and I'll be able to take the University's case with me: 'What a great University this is and what a great place to come and study'."



Left: The Honourable Julia Gillard with Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Warren Bebbington
Photo by David Marks


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