It is with a heavy heart that I advise you that after a lengthy illness Professor Emeritus Ken Back AO passed on Monday afternoon, surrounded by his wife, Pat, and daughters.
Ken Back, after whom our Chancellery building on the Douglas campus is named, was appointed Warden of the then University College of Townsville at Pimlico in December 1962 and upon James Cook University being created as Queensland’s second University in 1970 he was appointed as our first Vice Chancellor, a role he held until January 1986. In these roles, Ken oversaw the development of the Douglas campus and the protracted move of the College, and then University, from Pimlico to Douglas.
By the time of his retirement, Ken had been Warden and Vice Chancellor for 23 years, and seen the College and then University grow from 200 students to 3,000. He had steered the University through growth, cyclones and budget cuts, and was liked and respected by the University community and across the north. Ken gained a national reputation as a university administrator and remained active in a number of tertiary education advisory roles well into his retirement.
Ken was appointed as an Officer in the Order of Australia in 1984 for services to education, was conferred the title of Professor Emeritus in 1986 upon his retirement, and awarded an Honourary Doctorate of Science by the University in 1995. He played an amazing role in the early life of our University and led it magnificently for many years. There can be no doubt that he built the platform for our development and success.
Vale Ken Back.
Kind regards, Sandra
Professor Sandra Harding
Vice Chancellor and President
James Cook University
Cairns – Singapore – Townsville