When Dr Victor Talbot undertook a PhD under the tutelage of Professor Robert (Bob) Magee in the 1970s he had little idea of the impact this vibrant academic would have on his life.
Through Professor Magee’s knowledge, generosity and guidance he propelled Victor’s impressive 32 year career in sustainability which has included a major environmental clean up of Port Phillip Bay and undertaking a large-scale environmental chemistry project spanning most of the WA coastline.
To honour Professor Magee, who died in 2008, Victor has made a generous endowment gift to establish the Professor Robert Magee Memorial Prize Fund with proceeds supporting environmental chemistry students at La Trobe.
To those who had the pleasure of knowing Bob Magee, he was a man of great charisma and energy. He was foundation professor of Chemistry at La Trobe in 1967. He led a dynamic and innovative department which focussed on emerging research in Australia, such as environmental and analytical chemistry, which was unfashionable at the time and demonstrated significant foresight, well ahead of his time. He was also the University’s earlier supporters of internationalisation, paving the way for foreign student recruitment.
During his 20 year career at La Trobe he served as Dean of Physical Sciences, was the inaugural chairperson of Menzies College and periodically acted as Vice-Chancellor.
Despite their age gap, Victor and Bob had much in common – they were both Irish expatriates and bonded over a love of sport.
“Bob possessed charm, assertiveness and timing and had the wisdom to know when and where to use each. He was a great teacher and administrator, and he gave so generously to his students and the University. Consistent with Bob’s sense of community he involved himself in University sport - and assertively. I can still see him smiling when he would beat me at squash, despite being twice my age,” explains Victor.
"The man gave so generously to his students and La Trobe during his lifetime. When I look at what I have achieved personally and in my career, I feel that Bob played a big part in my success. This is my way of honouring his contribution and ensuring that the spirit and legacy of this great man continues.”