Professor Simons’s retirement marks the closing of a distinguished career in academia in both the UK and Australia. Of his 38 years of academic service, 32 have been spent in management capacities of one kind or another, and his accumulation of expertise and responsibility has been well earned and richly deserved.
Since he joined the University in 2009 as the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Arts, much has changed on this campus and in the world of higher education more broadly. John’s leadership of that faculty and his development of its staff and academic quality distinguished him in our community, and his enthusiasm for this University, its mission and its people reflected his deep commitment to his role and our shared success. I was delighted when he accepted the appointment as Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) in 2014.
John has contributed much to our ongoing ascent as a world-class University. His development of the Learning and Teaching Plan as a key part of our broader strategic framework has been crucial in reforming our academic offerings and preparing us for the future of higher education. His custodianship of the University Art Gallery, Chairmanship of the MGSM board, and deep involvement with our Indigenous engagement and reconciliation strategy reflect a man of diverse interests, genuine goodwill and extraordinary dedication.
As a member of the University’s Executive Group, he has provided fresh insights from unique perspectives. His contributions have been thoughtful, illuminating and, often, highly entertaining. I will miss him and his inimitable style during those meetings very much.
Though he is retiring, he advises me that his life will remain extremely full and that there is still much he wants to achieve: the publication of a novel (with more planned), the completion of a book on a hippopotamus that lived in Victorian England and the production of handwoven fabrics of his own design are just a few of the many projects and interests he plans to complete. I have no doubt that, not only will he find ample time to do these and much more, but that he will excel at each in ways that only he can.
Details of a formal farewell will be circulated nearer the time, where I hope you will join me in wishing him a happy, if not peaceful, retirement in Tasmania.