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Campus News : March 2013
I A 10 CONNECT: UOW MARCH 2013 CONNECT: IN MEMORIAM DR BERT FLUGELMAN nternationally renowned artist and former UOW lecturer Dr Herbert (Bert) Flugelman died on 26 February, aged 90. Dr Flugelman has long been considered one of Australia's finest sculptors, with many major works on display in public places around Australia including the Sydney CBD, Adelaide's Rundle Street Mall and in the sculpture garden at the National Gallery in Canberra. His celebrated Winged Figure -- Lawrence Hargrave Memorial at the base of Mt Keira celebrates the history of flight in the Illawarra while his Spiral and Wave sculpture is located outside the Wollongong City Gallery in Burelli St, Wollongong. Dr Flugelman's acclaimed stainless steel Wave -- Gateway to Mt Keira sculpture is just one of the distinctive symbols of his work on the UOW grounds, while his 1985 Archibald Prize-winning portrait painted by his friend and colleague Guy Warren hangs in the UOW Library. Dr Flugelman joined UOW in 1984 as Senior Lecturer with the then School of Creative Arts. In 1991 Dr Flugelman was made a Professorial Fellow of the University in recognition of his outstanding contribution, and was admitted to the Degree of Doctor of Creative Arts (Honoris Causa) in 1995. In 2008 Emeritus Professor Peter Pinson, who completed his PhD in Creative Arts at UOW in 1988, published a book on Dr Flugelman's career, Flugelman: On further reflection (Watermark Press). Professor Pinson described Dr Flugelman as "Australia's best senior generation contemporary sculptor" who had been "a dynamic figure in the Australian sculpture scene since the 1960s." His legacy lives on at UOW, where three of his former students, Derek Kreckler, Jacky Redgate and Penny Harris are now senior visual arts lecturers. Executive Dean of the Faculty of Law, Humanities and the Arts Professor Amanda Lawson told the Illawarra Mercury: "It really is a great loss, but a great opportunity to reflect on what he did bring to us. We were very happy to have seen him (Dr Flugelman) on the campus several times in the last year. He always had that twinkle in his eye (and) was just such a wonderfully kind, humourous and intelligent person". JOHN STEINKE s a city of immigrants, Wollongong has many adopted sons and daughters who have contributed to the city and the Illawarra region. However, few have made a more significant contribution than John Steinke, who died on 27 December 2012, aged 81. John came to Wollongong in early 1964 from the United States to start the Commerce course at the Wollongong University College. He was an economist - the first academic from a non- engineering or science background recruited for what had up until then been essentially a training college for steel industry technical staff. As an academic, John played a key role in the University of Wollongong's transformation from an outpost of the University of NSW offering technical courses, to a proudly autonomous institution with a comprehensive range of faculties and courses. Indeed, he was key member of a small group in the 1960s who led the fight for autonomy, against entrenched opposition from UNSW and many Wollongong staff. As an economist with a background in regional development, John also spent more than 40 years serving on a variety of regional development boards. He was the founding chairman of the Illawarra Regional Information Service (IRIS), a position he was to hold for 15 years. While he "retired" from IRIS in 2006 he continued to attend IRIS board meetings, offering his wise counsel and experience. One of his first research projects in Wollongong -- a report on female unemployment in the region in the mid-1960s -- exposed a massive problem and led directly to the NSW Government establishing a development fund that made loans available to companies that would agree to employ mostly women. At least 15 firms were established, mainly in the footwear and clothing industries, and more than 1500 women gained employment in that era. Generations of Wollongong families from the 1960s through to recent years when the last of those factories closed, owed their prosperity to that initiative. John loved serving the community, and even flirted with the idea of a political career. When Whitlam Government Minister Rex Connor died in 1977, John contested Labor Party pre-selection for Connor's federal seat of Cunningham. Stewart West prevailed, but John, while disappointed, had few regrets. Instead, he devoted himself to helping the University achieve the potential he knew it had, and helping generations of students realise their personal potential. He also provided authoritative economic analysis that helped the region benefit from major government grants, such as the Steel Industry Assistance Fund after the massive downturn and job losses in the region's steel industry in the early 1980s. When UOW re-organised its academic management in 1986, John was appointed the inaugural Dean of Commerce. Emeritus Vice-Chancellor Professor Gerard Sutton said Mr Steinke had played a key role in the amalgamation of UOW and the Wollongong Institute of Education (teachers college) in 1982, and also helped recruit UOW's first international students in the late 1980s. He also served on landscaping committees that were responsible for establishing the native bushland environment on the campus. When I began researching and writing REGIONAL ICON, GLOBAL ACHIEVER, a book on UOW's history to mark its 60th anniversary in 2011, John Steinke was the first person I called on for an insight into the forces and personalities that had shaped the University. I knew he had an encyclopaedic memory, but was astonished not only at how much he remembered, but the minute detail. He could even tell me the names of the four students in his first Commerce class in 1964. Consequently, he was able to flesh out many of the pivotal moments in UOW's past, greatly enriching the book with anecdotes and details. UOW honoured John by making him a Fellow of the University in 1994 in recognition of 30 years of devoted service. He is survived by Nicole, Aden and Eve and two grandchildren. NH John Steinke, pictured at UOW in 2011 (Photo courtesy of Kirk Gilmour/ Illawarra Mercury) Dr Bert Flugelman, pictured in 2008.