Farewell to two Bendigo greats

It is with great sadness that we announce the recent passing of two great leaders of regional education in Victoria, Dr Ralph Birrell and Bill Delecca – both alumni of our Bendigo antecedent institutions.

Dr Ralph Birrell

Dr Birrell was a long-standing employee and leader of the Bendigo Technical College and Bendigo Institute of Technology, serving as Head of the Department of Electrical Engineering, until 1965, when he was appointed Principal following the retirement of E.C. Thompson.

The period of Dr Birrell's tenure as Principal was one of significant change and growth for the institution and he was highly regarded for the invaluable and enduring contribution he made to higher education in Bendigo.

Dr Birrell was an honoured guest at the celebrations at the 140 Years of Tertiary Education in Bendigo celebration in 2013, where he took part in the unveiling of the School of Mines plaque in the Heyward Library.

Bill Delecca

William Alfred 'Bill' Delecca began teaching in the old art department at what was then known as the Bendigo School of Mines, later named Bendigo Technical College.

An inveterate designer, artist and aesthete Bill Delecca swept into the lives of his students, bringing a vision of modernity, a 'cool' aesthetic and an unbridled passion for the arts and art making.

A major professional coup for Bill, while working as head of department art and design at the Bendigo College of Advanced Education, he was instrumental in gaining Australia's first Bachelor Degree in Visual Arts and Design – a significant triumph for Bendigo. He also gained prominence as an artist – both locally and internationally and his artwork is featured in the esteemed FM Courtis collection. 

As Bendigo carves out a strong niche for itself as a regional hub for arts in Australia, Bill Delecca leaves behind a great and lasting legacy.

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