Perth: David Bottomley Australia’s oldest PhD graduate at 94

David and Anne Bottomley. Photo credit: Jaimi Joy
David and Anne Bottomley. Photo credit: Jaimi Joy

A LIFELONG quest for knowledge and a desire to learn has led to David Bottomley being crowned Australia’s oldest ever PhD graduate.

The 94-year-old graduated from Curtin University last night with a Doctor of Philosophy after completing his thesis, which examined the methods of five progressive English educators who introduced an understanding of science into the curriculum in the 19th century.

His graduation was the culmination of 72 years of professional work and research to satisfy his thirst for knowledge and his love of furthering his understanding of life.

“The essence of education is the idea of questioning of not accepting any individual’s idea, about being prepared to look for different points of view,” he said.

Despite completing his PhD part-time over the past seven years, the father-of-four and grandfather actually finished a year ahead of schedule and admitted he felt a mixture of joy and numbness.

Photo credit: Jaimi Joy

“I’m very thrilled because I feel freed, I feel I have learnt a great deal about the 19th century and there are many ideas I’ve come across which I think deserved to be examined today,” he said.

“The world hasn’t quite stopped, but what on earth am I supposed to do now?

“You’re let out of the academic cave as it were, suddenly you’ve got to reorient yourself because you’ve been concentrating on one narrow field of thought for some time.”

Dr Bottomley admitted he was glad to have some time to spend with his wife of 68 years Anne and would mull over his next move.

However, he said wanted to take his research and apply it to the challenge of tackling dementia.

“I’m interested in looking to discussions about bringing together the business characteristics of creativity, along with the work of the five headmasters I studied and bringing into it all the up-to-date scientific and medical information,” he said.

“I’d like to see all elements relevant to the question of dementia stirred together and to see what happens.”