La Trobe University Deputy Chancellor Deborah Radford presented the honorary degree to the former Supreme Court Judge at the University’s annual Prize Ceremony, held at the Ulumbarra Theatre 27 July.
The conferral of this award by La Trobe recognises the significant contribution that Justice Nathan has made within the local community. His passion for education is apparent in his funding of various regional educational scholarships for disadvantaged high school students, as well as his role as a guest lecturer in the Law School at La Trobe University.
Professor Patrick Keyzer, Head of La Trobe University’s Law School, said: "Howard has been a significant contributor to this community and our Law School. He is a distinguished Australian who has made a massive contribution to Australian life.”
Admitted to the Victorian Bar in 1964, Justice Nathan was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1980 and became a Supreme Court Judge in 1983, serving on the Bench for the next twenty years. He was awarded the Centennial Medal of Australia in 1989. Alongside an eventful career and his many professional achievements, he has continued to give of his time and resources at both a local and international level, including significant support of the arts within Bendigo and regional Victoria.
“I am mightily honoured to receive this honorary degree,” said Justice Nathan. “I’m also proud of my convict origins – the transition from felons to a Doctor of Laws within five generations recognises that Australia is truly the ‘goldenah medina’ – the golden land – and it is especially apt that this should happen in Bendigo.”
The Ulumbarra Theatre itself shares a close connection with Justice Nathan’s philanthropic endeavours, with the venue’s foyer named the Hon. Howard Nathan Foyer in recognition of his significant donation to its construction and his support and passion for the arts. Justice Nathan continues to contribute to the Bendigo community through his support of the Bendigo Art Gallery, where he is a board member, his volunteer work with the Mia Mia Country Fire Authority, and his volunteer service as a chaplain with Bendigo Health.
La Trobe University’s Head of Campus Rob Stephenson said: “Howard’s influence, support and enthusiasm appears endless and he has become a much admired and loved friend of the community in both Bendigo and central Victoria. He provides an exemplary model of modern-day philanthropy.”