Jennifer Williams

In her own words (adapted from her Living History interview)

University gave me a very good grounding in terms of general approach to life, and was a really strong basis for me to build my career beyond that.

La Trobe was still really almost a building site when we were studying here. There was still construction going on, the paddocks were muddy. There was poor transportation out here. We all had to drive. So you very much felt that you were part of being something new.

Glenn College was the heart of the University back then, because that was the cafeteria, that’s where graduations were. It was the main area. So it is fondly remembered by students back in my time.

Those years for me were not as studious as I now wish they were. We went to the pub a lot. I did pass everything and did reasonably well, but I was never striving to be the top student.

My advice to a first year student here would be to really enjoy the experience and try and balance having a good social time with academic achievement.

I got an extremely good job overseas. COMSAT was really the only company that was involved in launching and using satellites for voice and data and television communication back in those years. I do remember one occasion when President Nixon went to China and for the first time we established satellite communications with China, which had been locked out of the world for many years.

I then was appointed as Chief Executive of the Austin Repat Medical Centre, now called Austin Health, and after that I worked as Chief Executive of Alfred Health and then Chief Executive of the Australian Red Cross blood service.

In 2008 I was approached by Sylvia Walton to see if I was interested in going on the La Trobe council. From time to time we visit the regional campuses, and meet students that you know would have had no chance of going to University had there not been a campus there.

La Trobe started as a University for first in family and to try and get greater penetration of tertiary education into the northern suburbs, and I think that says a lot for what La Trobe is about and what La Trobe wants to continue to grow and achieve.