Rock icon, author and quintessential working class man, Jimmy Barnes, will receive one of four honorary doctorates to be conferred during the University of South Australia’s September graduations.
Barnes is being honoured for distinguished service to the community, and will join actor and activist George Takei, artist Geoff Wilson, and businessman and philanthropist Andrew Pridham in receiving the honour on Wednesday 28 September.
Almost 1700 UniSA students will graduate at UniSA’s Pridham Hall in ceremonies from Tuesday 27 September to Thursday 29 September.
During the graduations, Australia’s Chief Defence Scientist, former UniSA Deputy Vice Chancellor: Research and Innovation, Professor Tanya Monro, will be made Emeritus Professor of the University, highlighting her significant contribution over many years.
UniSA Vice Chancellor Professor David Lloyd says the University’s latest honorary doctorates embody the unstoppable attitude UniSA hopes to instil in all its graduates.
“In very different ways, each of our newest honorary doctors has dedicated their own personal journey to benefiting the lives of the people around them, whether that is through art, activism or generosity,” Prof Lloyd says.
“We hope that their positive spirit and unwavering determination help our graduates appreciate that there are many different paths to making a positive impact on the world, each of which is powerful and valuable in its own unique way.
Prof Lloyd says Barnes – whose career has been defined by perseverance and tenacity as much as his iconic voice – is a perfect fit for the UniSA community.
“From working class boy to working class man to working class hero, Jimmy has had to overcome adversity and countless setbacks, bouncing back stronger each time,” Prof Lloyd says. “If you want a gold standard for the ‘unstoppable career’, then Jimmy Barnes is it.”
Born in Glasgow and raised in Elizabeth, James Dixon Barnes AO was just 16 when he joined Cold Chisel in 1973, bringing his passion and unique vocal style to a band that would become a defining act of the Australian pub rock scene.
Following Chisel’s breakup in 1983, Barnes’ 1984 solo debut Bodyswerve topped the charts, as did the 1985 follow-up, For the Working Class Man, an album that spawned his signature tune, “Working Class Man”, and cemented his place as the voice of a generation.
Since then, Barnes’ musical career has taken in 20 solo albums – including a record 13 ARIA number ones – along with a hugely successful Cold Chisel reunion. He has released three autobiographical books and a film that reveals the struggles and triumphs of a lifetime in the public eye, as well as two children’s books and a cookbook with his wife, Jane.
With a career that now spans five decades, Barnes has performed over 10,000 gigs, and he continues to thrive on the connection with his fans that live performance delivers.
George Takei is a social justice activist, social media superstar, Grammy-nominated recording artist, New York Times bestselling author, and pioneering actor. He has appeared in more than 40 feature films and hundreds of television roles, most famously as Hikaru Sulu in Star Trek.
As a child, George was imprisoned by the US government in Japanese American internment camps and has since become a spokesperson for former Japanese American internees, donating the $20,000 reparation he received for his own incarceration to the Japanese American National Museum, which he founded and serves as a trustee for.
Now a community activist, George is a member of the Human Rights Campaign, the US’s largest LGBTQIA+ political organisation. He is Chairman Emeritus of the Japanese American National Museum’s Board of Trustees; a member of the US-Japan Bridging Foundation Board of Directors; and served on the Board of the Japan-United States Friendship Commission under President Bill Clinton. In recognition of his contribution to the Japan-United States relationship, in 2004, Takei was conferred with the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette, by His Majesty, the Emperor of Japan.
Geoff Wilson OAM is a South Australian artist, best known for his expertise in portraying landscapes. He is very influential in the arts community and has a deep knowledge of art and art history around the world.
Geoff was an avid art and history enthusiast at an early age and was educated by Jeffrey Smart, former art teacher and patron of the South Australian School of Art – a precursor institution to UniSA. Geoff worked at the South Australian School of Art over a 20-year period, initially as a lecturer before being promoted to Head of Painting.
Geoff was a founding member of Friends of South Australian School of Art and has made many valuable voluntary contributions to the success of this group since it was first established in 2008.
Andrew Pridham AO is Group Vice Chairman of MA Financial Group. Adelaide-born and educated, Andrew completed his Bachelor of Applied Science in Property Resource Management at UniSA, graduating in 1988, but “through happenstance” found himself in investment banking, specialising in property. He moved to Sydney and went on to be appointed by global investment bank UBS as Managing Director and Head of Investment Banking Australasia before turning 30. He later filled senior positions for UBS based in London and Singapore.
A passionate supporter of the AFL, Andrew joined the Sydney Swans Board in 2002, and assumed the role of chairman in December 2013.
In October 2016, a $5-million gift from the Pridham Foundation was made to UniSA to support the construction of its Great Hall – now called Pridham Hall. Andrew’s gift was the largest single private donation made in UniSA’s history.