Continuous learning key to exciting and sustainable future in Central Queensland and beyond

09 December 2022

CQUniversity outgoing chancellor and industry leader John Abbott AM has been named Emeritus Chancellor' at the CQU Gladstone Graduation on Friday 9 December 2022.

After seven years at the helm of CQUniversity's Council' Mr Abbott was surprised by the new title' after presiding over 82 graduations'and presenting more than 13'500 testamurs to CQUniversity students.

Delivering the occasional address as Emeritus Chancellor at the Gladstone Graduation' Mr Abbott said he had "mixed emotions" about the final formal role with CQU.

"Happy as I always am at graduations' and revelling in the shared happiness of graduates' I'm really sad to see this chapter of my life close'" he said.

Mr Abbott described a "wild ride"' from his installation in 2016 when CQUniversity was the fastest-growing university in Australia' through the challenges of the pandemic' and rebuilding for post-pandemic.

"The rate of change in the world at the moment is faster than any other time in human history'" he said.

But he said the commitment to life-long learning' in line with CQUniversity's motto Doctrina Perpetua (Perpetual Learning)' was the key to successful careers' and to ensuring a sustainable future.

"The jobs of the future' and professions you are entering or perhaps have already entered' will demand continuous learning'" Mr Abbott told graduates.

"When I started in engineering' no such thing as scientific calculators' no personal computers.

"Then when I studied law' there were still no computers' and certainly no Google! So it involved days in a law library to do an assignment' which was a challenge for me because I worked on an offshore oil rig!"

But Mr Abbott said innovations he's seen in flexible education' and in the shift to greener energy' give him hope for a more sustainable future.

"My connection to CQU started in 1980 when I first went to the power station' and since then I've been continuously involved.

"Since I've been Chancellor' the development of the School of Mining in Rockhampton' and the School of Trade Training and School of Manufacturing in Gladstone' are paving the way for ensuring a future-proofed industry workforce' who are ready to tackle the challenges of transitioning to sustainable energy generation'" he said.

Mr Abbott also highlighted CQUniversity's Pathway to Medicine program' launched in 2022' as a necessary innovation to ensure regional areas can develop a cohort of locally trained and experienced medical professionals.

Prior to his role as Chancellor' Mr Abbott was the general manager of NRG Gladstone' across 2014-2016' and in 2021 became the chairman of Queensland Pacific Metals' an ASX-listed company.

He's also on the board of Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service' and Regional Development Australia - Central and Western Queensland' as well as chairman of Queensland Wool Processors.

A father to five children' Mr Abbott told the Gladstone graduation that seizing opportunities was vital for a big-impact career.

"With my wife and my family' we've had 23 house moves in 27 years of marriage' and we moved that many times to follow those opportunities'" he said.

"Take every opportunity that presents itself' and if those opportunities don't appear' go and look for them!"

CQUniversity Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Nick Klomp said Mr Abbott's long list of achievements as Chancellor had earned him the new title.

"John's work and experience has created an extensive network of contacts across industry' government' community' locally and internationally' and he has used these to the university's benefit'" Professor Klomp said.

"Through his long-term support of CQUniversity and its values' John has demonstrated himself a person that CQUniversity is proud to acknowledge' and I'm proud to appoint John Arthur Abbott as Emeritus Chancellor of CQUniversity."

The recognition was formally presented by newly-installed CQU Chancellor Mr Graeme Innes AM' who joins CQU after a career as a lawyer' author and human rights advocate.

Blind from birth' Mr Innes is Australia's first university Chancellor to identify as a person with a disability.

Following his retirement as chancellor' Mr Abbott plans to continue his association with CQU and with the many other community and industry organisations he has worked with during his career.