After leaving school at the age of 15 and obtaining a trade certificate in carpentry, Tony Freeman will be donning academic dress on April 28 to receive a Master of Business Administration at James Cook University in Cairns.
Mr Freeman is the Project Manager for JCU’s Estate Office, overseeing construction projects such as The Cairns Institute.
“I have been studying at the same time as working in that role, so I will be happy to have my weekends back,” he said.
“After a year in the job, I received an email to say the University would pay for me to further my education, which was a great opportunity, and meant I had no more excuses not to study.”
He has three children, two studying at JCU, and another who is a carpenter. Son Shane has one last subject to complete in his business degree and daughter Hannah has started studies to become a secondary school teacher.
Mr Freeman also has a Master of Project Management from the University of Southern Queensland.
The JCU Cairns campus is celebrating 25 years this year and has conferred 5,920 degrees in that time.
Graduates have included 1102 teachers, 522 science graduates, 422 accountants, 336 social and community welfare workers, 143 tourism graduates, and about 200 law graduates. More than 200 students have completed their Masters of Business Administration.
The Cairns campus opened with just 117 students and eight first-year subjects in 1987. This year there are 4120 students and the campus now offers a huge range of courses from diplomas to doctoral programs.
Deputy Vice-Chancellor Stephen Weller said a growing student body and expanded offerings meant the Cairns conferrals were increasing rapidly.
“It might have taken two decades to produce our first 5,000 students, but our next 5,000 will take less than half that time,” he said.
JCU began teaching in Cairns teaching on February 23, 1987, offering eight first-year subjects to 117 students in cramped quarters at the TAFE campus.
“Sadly, our first Rector, Professor Henry Crowther, retired early due to ill health and did not live to see the move to our Smithfield campus, where the lecture theatres are named after him,” Dr Weller said.
“He did, however, see the first Cairns graduation ceremony, and the campus he helped to create.”
His successor Professor Philip Courtenay oversaw the campus’ expansion and eventual relocation to the present Smithfield site in June 1995. The campus was officially opened by the then Governor-General Bill Hayden in December of the same year.
To mark the 25th anniversary, Professor Courtenay will be attending the Cairns graduation ceremony at the Cairns Convention Centre on April 28.
Issued April 11, 2012
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