La Trobe Honorary Degrees

La Trobe has a long tradition, dating back from the establishment of the University, of recognising people who have made a significant contribution to their field of expertise. These are often individuals with a connection to La Trobe University; they are always people who have demonstrated a commitment and dedication that is worthy of recognition. La Trobe University awards Honorary Degrees to outstanding individuals who have not studied at La Trobe.

Honorary Degree

Awarded to eminent individuals, who are either not alumni of the University or who have only done an undergraduate degree at La Trobe, who have demonstrated significant accomplishments in their personal and professional life, or for service to their community, state or nation.

Please note: Only members of La Trobe University's Senior Executive may stand as nominators for Honorary Degrees.

Eligibility and selection criteria

Nominees must be individuals who are either not alumni of La Trobe University (or an antecedent institution) or who have only done an undergraduate degree at La Trobe, who over an extensive and sustained period of time, demonstrated one or more of the following:

Outstanding professional achievements

a. Recognised as leader/expert in their field.
b. Significant achievement(s) throughout their career.
c. Evidence of ethical and/or innovative sustainable approaches used.

Significant community service achievements

a. Support of, and significant involvement in, the local community in a voluntary capacity.
b. Dedication of significant personal/professional time for charitable/community support activities.

Inspirational leadership within their fields of expertise

a. Mentoring employees/younger people inside or outside their organisation.
b. Advocacy of access and diversity within their organisations and across their field.
c. Encouraging corporate philanthropy and community support.
d. Providing leadership within and across their respective industries

Outstanding personal qualities

a. Engaging in, or enabling personal philanthropy.
b. Providing inspiration and leadership to others through personal examples and role modelling
c. Success in the face of adversity.

Please note: Only members of La Trobe University's Senior Executive may stand as nominators for Honorary Degrees.


Honorary degree nominations are approved by the Academic Board, following a review by the Vice-Chancellor.


The award process must remain confidential as regards the nominees until a decision has been made by the selection committee and the Academic Board.The information submitted will be used by La Trobe University, in connection with the administration of the award only. All information will remain confidential.

2013 and 2014 Honorary Degree recipients

Aaron T. Beck MD – DScience (honoris causa)

Renowned worldwide as one of the most influential psychotherapists of all time and the father of Cognitive.  Undertook ground breaking research which fundamentally changed the way psychiatry and psychology viewed depression. Published landmark book in 1967, Depression: Clinical, Experimental and Theoretical Aspects, which outlined a new cognitive theory of depression.

His "Cognitive Behaviour Therapy" is the primary model of psychological therapy in many countries around the world. Currently resident emeritus of the Beck Institute for Cognitive Therapy and Research, which he founded in 1994.

Dr Robert James Brown MB BS – DUniv (honoris causa)Former Senator and Parliamentary Leader of the Australian Greens, medical doctor and environmentalist. He graduated from Sydney University with a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery.

Practised medicine first in Canberra, then Darwin and Alice Springs before moving to Tasmania in 1972. First elected to the Senate in 1996 and led the Australian Greens from the party's foundation in 1992 until his retirement in April 2012.

Dr Meenakshi Gopinath – DLitt (honoris causa)

Principal of Lady Shri Ram (LSR) College, Delhi University since 1988, with a focus on the education of women to take up leadership positions in society. Honours degree from LSR, Masters at University of Massachusetts, USA and PhD from the University of Delhi, Fulbright Scholar at Georgetown University, USA

Her research interests include issues of security, peace building, gender, Gandhian philosophy, Marxist politics, Buddhism and the performing arts. Awarded Honorary Degree in recognition of her outstanding contributions to national and international civil society initiatives that foster coexistence between communities and women's engagement in building peace.

Professor Ulrich Hartl - DScience (honoris causa)

Completed his MD at University of Heidelberg, Germany in 1982 and Doctor of Medicine in 1985. Has made a seminal contribution to understanding of the way in which proteins fold into their final shapes within cells. Has published close to 300 scientific papers, with more than 37,000 citations.

Has received more than 30 Honours and Awards since 1994 including the Order of Merit of the Republic of Germany, the Otto Warburg Medal of the German Society of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, the van Gysel Prize for Biomedical Research in Europe, the Heineken prize for Biochemistry & Biophysics from the Royal Netherlands Academy of Science and was elected a Fellow of the American Academy for the Advancement of Sciences.

In 2011, was awarded the Albert Lasker Prize, widely understood to be second in importance only to the Nobel Prize. Currently Professor at the Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry in Germany.

Professor Paul Kane BA, MA, PhD – Dlitt (honoris causa)

Educated at Yale and was a Fulbright Scholar to the University of Melbourne.
Internationally renowned English academic.  Currently Professor at Vassar University, New York, USA. Taught also at Yale University and Monash University.

Has been the artistic director of the Mildura Writers Festival since 2002. This contribution has enriched and sustained one of the major cultural events of the Victorian regional calendar.

2014 and 2015 Honorary Degree recipients

Dr John Cooke – DSci (Honoris causa)

Highly regarded in his field of expertise in environmental water flows and salinity, where his leadership has changed policy and direction in water management in the Southern Murray Darling Basin. He has held positions of authority on a number of major committees involving key stakeholders in this area and has been a board member of the Mallee Catchment Management Authority since 2013.

Dr Cooke is a tireless campaigner for La Trobe University in the Sunraysia district and a driving force in establishing a dedicated building for La Trobe University in Mildura which was completed in 2003. He was an inaugural member of the Mildura Regional Advisory Board and has been on the Board since its inception in 1995.

He was recognised for his leadership in emergency management work, receiving the National Fire Medal and the Victorian Bushfires 2009 medal. Community service achievements are further exemplified in his work at Mallee Family Care, the largest community based provider of health, welfare and family services for north west Victoria where he has been a board member and Chair of the Audit committee since 2011.

Andrew Demetriou - DLitt (honoris causa)

Considered one of Australia's best sport CEOs based on his significant leadership of the CEO for over a decade. Former AFL player, he transformed the AFL as a sport and as a business. He became CEO of the AFL Players Association in 1998. Responsible for the implementation of the AFL Players' Association Retirement Fund, the Player Welfare Fund, the Education and Training Fund and other programs.

Revolutionised the code's response to illicit drug use; initiated a policy to improve the treatment of women; allowed free movement of uncontracted, end-of-term players between clubs; and supported some of the strongest anti-discrimination policies in international sport. Tripled AFL turnover, drove the expansion of the competition to 18 teams and expanded the number of venues where AFL is played.

2009 La Trobe University Alumni Award recipient. Currently Trustee and Director on a number of not for profit organisation as well as Adjunct Professor at La Trobe University.

Simon McKeon AO – DPH (honoris causa)

Chairman of AMP Limited and previously Executive Chairman of Macquarie Group's Melbourne office

Founding chair of MS Research Australia from 2004 until 2010. Chaired or been a Director on numerous not for profit organisations including Global Poverty Project Australia, Big Issue Advisory Board , the Victorian Government's National Disability Insurance Scheme Implementation Task Force,  World Vision Australia, Archbishop of Melbourne's Relief and Development Fund

Order of Australia, 2011, ABF Australian Banking Ambassador of the Year, 2014 Academy Medal by the Australian Academy of Science, 2010 John Studdy Award and being named 2011 Australian of the Year.

John Richards OAM – DSci (honoris causa)

Outstanding community leader in north-east Victoria, particularly in the fields of health and aged care services.  Inaugural president of the Yarrawonga District Health Service board of management, and was instrumental in the establishment of the Moira Healthcare Alliance, of which he was President from 2002 to 2005. Through generous philanthropic support he enabled the establishment of the Research Initiative into Aged Care in Rural and Regional Communities at La Trobe University's Albury-Wodonga Campus.

More recently, he has established the "John Richards Agricultural Scholarships" to support agricultural students in anticipation of their future contribution to the agricultural industry and the economic and sustainable development of the region.

In 2007 John was a recipient of the Order of Australia Medal for "service to the community of the Moira Shire, particularly as a contributor to health sector development, and to the newsagency industry through the Victorian Authorised Newsagents Association".

Heather Schnagl AM – DEd(honoris causa)

Principal of Ivanhoe Girls Grammar

Appointed a Fellow of both the Australian College of Educators and the Australian Council of Educational Leaders.  Made a significant contribution to education, including at the national level, through dedicated work with the Institute of Teaching, Independent Schools Victoria and Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia.

Exemplary role model of devoted citizenship and unconditional compassion for and belief in the potential of others, indefatigably showing an unyielding commitment to promoting positive community values and enacting her unwavering sense of fairness to all. Worked on the Ethics Committee of the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, as a member and then Chair, Board Member of the Centre from 1992-1995.

Fellow of St Hilda's College, The University of Melbourne, Treasurer of Girls' Sport Victoria, a Director of the Snowsports Development Foundation, and a long-serving Council Member of The Invergowrie Foundation. Recipient of the Hedley Beare Educator of the Year Award in 2010. Awarded an AM for significant services to education in the 2014 Australia Day honours list. Inaugural and active member of the La Trobe Business School Advisory Board.

2015 and 2016 Honorary Degree recipients

Professor Nguyen Dinh Luan - DEd, (honoris causa)

Professor Luan has been President of Hanoi University (HANU) since 2008.  As leader of HANU, one of La Trobe’s key international partners, he has been instrumental in raising the HANU-LTU partnership to new and higher levels of co-operation and achievement.

A linguist by training, Professor Luan has proved to be a highly successful academic and leader and has forged an enviable set of international partnerships across the globe, positioning HANU as a partner of choice in Vietnam.

An important milestone in the recent history of HANU has been the establishment of the first (and to date, only) Confucius Institute in Vietnam at the University launched in December 2013 under the leadership of Professor Luan who firmly believed in the Institute’s significant contribution in promoting research and teaching of Chinese language and culture at HANU, and more broadly, in the strengthening of the relationship between Vietnamese and Chinese people.

Winifred Scott - DEd, (honoris causa)

Winifred has been CEO of SuniTAFE since 2006 and has driven the successful partnership between SuniTAFE and La Trobe University which has transformed education in Mildura.

Through a decade of the most turbulent change the sector had ever seen, she led changes in vocational education funding and policy which affected every aspect of SuniTAFE’s operation.  Today, SuniTAFE apprenticeship completion rates are above the state average and it has high demand for places in its health and wellbeing courses including nursing, children’s services and aged care

Winifred serves as Deputy Chair of the board of Arts Mildura, and serves on the board of the Northern Mallee Local Learning and Employment Network, the Sunraysia Sustainability Network and the Northern Mallee Community Partnership.  She is a member of the Victorian Multicultural Commission: Loddon Mallee Regional Advisory Committee and the Victorian TAFE Association (VTA) CEOs Council.

The Hon John Brumby - LLitt, (honoris causa)

John Brumby is a highly regarded former Federal and State Member of Parliament who has dedicated much of his career to serving the people of Victoria. He began his career as a teacher at Eaglehawk High School in Bendigo, where he worked from 1976 to 1979. He has a strong regional background and understands the importance of a prosperous regional Victoria for the future of the State.

John entered politics in 1983, when he was elected to the Australian House of Representatives for the seat of Bendigo, a seat he held until 1990 as Federal MHR for Bendigo during the period of the Hawke Government. In 1993 he was elected to the Victorian Legislative Assembly for the seat of Broadmeadows. He spent more than ten years in the Victoria Legislative Assembly as Treasurer, six years as Leader of the Victorian Opposition, and was Premier of Victoria from 2007 to 2010.

In 2000 he established Regional Development Victoria and is currently leading a review of this organisation; a review which is examining agriculture, biosecurity services and transport.

Now retired from politics, his work continues to support the future of Victoria’s economy and the health and wellbeing of its citizens.

In addition to a strong interest in regional Victoria, John has been a longstanding Director of the Fred Hollows Foundation and is Chair of the Joe Welch Bursary Trust. He is the National President of the Australia China Business Council and Chair of the National Centre for Workplace Leadership at the University of Melbourne.

Mr Brumby was a former student of the Bendigo College of Advanced Education, an antecedent institution of the University.  He is currently Chair of the La Trobe-affiliated Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute (ONJCRI), which is one of the University’s key research partnerships.

Lisa Bellear - DLitt, (honoris causa)

Lisa Bellear was a La Trobe University student at the time of her death in 2006.  She enrolled in a PhD in 1999 and was researching on the topic of “Contemporary Indigenous issues through radio and photographic texts”.  She was about three quarters of the way through the thesis when she passed away.

Lisa was not just a scholar, she was also an artist (an accomplished professional photographer), a published poet, a political activist, a social commentator, a radio presenter and a community advocate.

For twenty years, she presented on the program Not Another Koori Show on Melbourne’s 3CR; a program she helped to found.  As part of this work she also engaged in activities such as conducting workshops for Indigenous women in prison at the Dame Phyllis Frost Centre.

Lisa had many publications to her name, including two MA theses: ‘Beyond reconciliation’ University of Queensland MA (Creative Writing) and one MA (Arts) ‘Portrayal and representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders through the pen of indigenous Australian poets’ University of Melbourne.  Her works of poetry were published extensively and she was widely recognised and celebrated for her literary talents.  Her photographs were exhibited in various venues, including a major exhibition at the Melbourne Museum in 2001 and as part of the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.

During her short lifetime she made innumerable contributions to equality, justice and Indigenous rights and even extended this engagement overseas, where she was actively involved with Native and African-American student bodies and presented at international conferences and tours to universities.

2017 Honorary Degree recipients

Emeritus Professor Jennifer Seberry - Doctor of Science (honoris causa)

Emeritus Professor Jennifer Seberry is a distinguished Australian who has made a significant contribution to advances in computer science, mathematical cryptology, and computer and network security.

She completed a Master of Science in 1969 at La Trobe, and graduated with a PhD in Computational Mathematics in 1971, as one of the first women to complete a doctorate at La Trobe University. Emeritus Professor Seberry was the first female Professor of Computer Science in Australia, and has authored over 450 academic papers. She has published extensively in Discrete Mathematics and is internationally renowned for her new discoveries on Hadamard matrices, orthogonal designs and statistical designs. Emeritus Professor Seberry established the Centre for Computer Security Research, one of the first research centres of its kind in Australia. The centre has contributed significantly to Australia's security research and is one reason why Emeritus Professor Seberry is known as a founder of Cryptography in Australia.

The awarding of an Honorary Degree to Emeritus Professor Seberry is a fitting tribute to the life and work of a woman whose career has been pioneering in many respects, and who has shaped the course of new fields of research both in Australia and globally.

Zelda D’Aprano – Doctor of Letters (honoris causa)

Zelda D’Aprano is a distinguished Australian who has provided a lifetime of significant service to the nation’s workplaces, the women’s movement and to Australian culture and received this award in recognition of her outstanding achievements throughout her activist career and her ongoing commitment to social justice within the Australian community

Zelda has had a long and pioneering career as a feminist activist and trade unionist, and has fought tirelessly for women’s rights for many years, particularly in the workplace. She has been a leading figure of the Australian labour movement for almost half a century.

Zelda’s vocal activism for improvements in women’s working conditions saw her dismissed from several jobs, however she persisted in her protests, most infamously against the decision in an Equal Pay case in 1969. Her astonishing legacy through her vision, dedication and hard work advocating for equal rights at work has paved the way for today’s women to not only pursue careers and receive more equitable pay, but also to take part in many other aspects of civic life.

Zelda was instrumental in ground-breaking campaigns around equal pay for women, but she also fought aspects of gendered inequality, including women’s right to drink at public bars and entitlements for pregnant workers. Zelda was involved in establishing the Women's Liberation Centre in Melbourne and was one of the initiators of the Women's Action Committee in 1970. Zelda has made a profound contribution to the nation’s workplaces and few people have so perfectly embodied the La Trobe University values of social justice, inclusion and equal participation for all.

Professor Zhenzhong Zhang – Doctor of Public Health (honoris causa)

Professor Zhang is a distinguished research professional who has provided a lifetime of significant service to China’s health development strategy, healthcare policy and healthcare delivery and management.

Professor Zhang is currently Honorary Director-General of the China National Health Development Research Center, the National Health and Family Planning Commission, and Vice Chair and Secretary General (legal representative) of the China Health Economics Association. He is a Member of the Executive Committee, International Association of Ambulatory Surgery; President of the China Alliance for Ambulatory Surgery, and a Consultant for Public Health at Ministry of Civil Affairs, China. Professor Zhang serves as Deputy Group Leader, the Expert Group of New Rural Cooperative Medical System and is a Professor at Harbin Medical University.

Professor Zhang has been working intensively in the research areas of China’s national health resource allocation , health security system and healthcare delivery and management. He was the key designer and principal technical adviser of the first Medical Financial Assistance project in China, namely, the Medical Financial Assistance for the Extremely Poor People in the Health VIII Project funded by the World Bank. Professor Zhang was the principal investigator and project team leader of the Standardization of the National Fee Schedule for Medical Procedures and Services (2001, 2007 and 2012) and is one of the key designers and project team leaders for the Pricing and Payment Regulation of the ‘C-DRG’: an activity-based funding model for paying public hospitals within China. In 2016, the National Health Family Planning Commission selected this model to be piloted and implemented across China.

Professor Zhang has a Postgraduate Diploma in Health Services Management and a Master in Health Administration, both from the La Trobe China Health Program run in collaboration with the Harbin Medical University. He is also the Vice Chair of La Trobe China Alumni Association.

More Information

For more information on the nomination process please contact the Alumni and Advancement Office at or phone +61 (0)3 9479 2011 or 1300 737 133.