Vale the Reverend Dr John Scott AO

The La Trobe community is sad to announce that the Reverend Dr John Scott AO, who was La Trobe University’s second Vice-Chancellor, died on 24 April 2023.

John was born in the United Kingdom in 1928 and was educated at Cambridge and Oxford Universities. After graduating, he worked at Sheffield and Aberdeen Universities before being appointed Reader in Mathematics at Oxford University. He was subsequently appointed Professor of Applied Statistics at the University of Sussex, where he later served as Pro Vice-Chancellor.

In 1977, John and his family moved to Australia where he took up his appointment as Vice-Chancellor of La Trobe University, a position he held with great distinction until 1989. The University grew significantly under John’s leadership, with the number of students increasing from 8,800 to 13,000. New research programs were also instituted during his tenure, including three research centres that were established with Federal funding, and the University’s course profile and disciplinary programs were expanded.

John was deeply committed to increasing educational access in Melbourne’s northern suburbs and he oversaw the growth of professional disciplines at La Trobe. Under his leadership, the University amalgamated with the Lincoln Institute of Health Sciences, forming the basis for the University’s reputation for excellence in health sciences teaching and research, which continues today.

John was a Fellow of the Institute of Statisticians, Chairman of Australia’s Vice Chancellor’s Committee, and Chair of Graduate Career Courses Australia. He served on the Council of Ivanhoe Grammar School and was Patron, and later Chaplain, of the Melbourne Scots. After retiring from the University, John was ordained as a priest in the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne. He became a much-loved priest and was an engaging preacher.

In retirement, John also served as President of the Libraries Board of Victoria and completed a valuation of the Victorian State Archives. In 1990, John was made an Officer of the Order of Australia in recognition of his outstanding service to the University and to education and research in Australia.

La Trobe Acting Vice-Chancellor, Professor Susan Dodds, said that John was an extraordinary person.

“As well as being a distinguished academic statistician and a highly accomplished university administrator and leader, John was a man of great vision and integrity who was deeply committed to La Trobe University’s social inclusion ethos,” Professor Dodds said.

“Few people have made more significant contributions to La Trobe or helped to shape the University that we are so proud of today. We are honoured to hold important meetings and colloquia in the John Scott Meeting House on the Melbourne campus that is named in John’s honour.”