CQU Emeritus Professor awarded AM for exceptional career

30 June 2021

CQUniversity's Emeritus Professor Debbie Clayton was recently appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the 2021 Queen's Birthday Honours list.

Professor Clayton was recognised for her significant service to tertiary education' and to international study programs.

"It's very humbling and I'm a bit overwhelmed by this recognition'"

she said.

"It is' however' not only reflective of my contribution to tertiary education and international study programs but also of the significant contribution of the teams of people who have walked a professional journey with me. And many of those people were from CQU.

"Professor John Smith' Head of Mathematics and Computing Department and Professor Errol Payne' Dean of Science provided mentoring' support' and the provision of opportunities that enabled me to develop my early career."

Professor Clayton enjoyed a varied career at CQUniversity' spanning almost 30 years.

She started as a tutor in the Mathematics and Computing Department in 1977' where she was the first female employed in that department. Professor Clayton even recalls having to use the male showers in the Engineering building if she needed to get ready for an evening function.

Her academic management positions included Associate Dean' Planning Dean' and Dean of the Faulty of Informatics and Communication.

Her time as the Planning Dean was both challenging and rewarding' as she had only six months to 'build' the new faculty of the Informatics and Communication Department.

During this time' she had great support from Professor Glenice Hancock' who became Queensland's first female Vice Chancellor.

From 1999 to 2006' Professor Clayton was Dean of International. This was a time of significant growth in international student numbers and international engagement activity' and she juggled the exciting and challenging times of her role while parenting her young child.

Professor Clayton's passion for education was sparked by her grandmother' who grew up in an era when boys were educated and girls were expected to marry well.

Her grandmother' as well as her parents' offered great encouragement to ensure Professor Clayton and her brother received a good education.

Once she got her first job as a tutor' she realised she really enjoyed teaching and believes CQUniversity played a significant part in her career.

"The skills I learnt as a manager in a regional university set you up for pretty much anything you choose to do in post CQU life."

she said.

In 2011' she was made an Emeritus Professor' and although she found this very humbling' her proudest moment at CQUniversity was when she was awarded the Vice Chancellor's Award for Quality Teaching in 1994.

"We need to remember that we' as university staff' are there for the students'"

she said.

Professor Clayton's advice for students and staff is to work and play hard' take every opportunity presented to you' be confident in your abilities' be prepared to take risks' get a good mentor' realise the value of networking' and pick up the phone or engage in a Zoom or MS Teams chat rather than always sending an email.

While she does undertake some 'work' activities' such as chairing the Accreditation Committee for Prevocational Medical Accreditation for Queensland' she now focuses on giving back to the local community through Rotary' Rockhampton Museum of Art Philanthropy Board' and the Board of Trustees of the Rockhampton Grammar School.