A GONG from the Queen has capped off the most fulfilling year of ECU Vice-Chancellor Steve Chapman’s decorated academic career.
Professor Chapman has just returned from London with wife Karen after being officially appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire for his service to higher education.
The chemist has transformed the university in little over a year since being headhunted from the UK where he had been at the helm of Scotland’s Heriot-Watt University since 2009.
Prince Charles awarded him the CBE at Buckingham Palace while the Queen was busy with her 90th birthday celebrations.
“Charles, who visited my previous university, said ‘I hope this does not mean you’re retiring’,” Professor Chapman said.
“I said ‘I’m not at Heriot-Watt anymore, I’m in Australia’. “He said ‘has Heriot-Watt opened a campus in Australia?’
“ ‘No I’m in an Australian university now’.
‘Wow that’s impressive’ he said.”
The Weekender asked Professor Chapman what it meant to receive the honour.
“You’ve got to be careful because I was getting this honour and there were people going up there who had been in Africa fighting ebola and guys who had been in the army in Afghanistan and you are thinking ‘how do I even deserve this compared to those people?’,” he said.
“My citation was services to higher education. But somewhere along the line some people thought it was worth nominating me…
“I was just pretty honoured to be alongside those people I certainly would have given honours to.”
ECU Chancellor Hendy Cowan congratulated Professor Chapman.
“We have already seen evidence of his strategic leadership and boundless energy since being appointed as ECU’s fifth Vice-Chancellor. On behalf of the University Council and the wider ECU community I congratulate Professor Chapman,” Mr Cowan said.
“This has been the best year of my academic life,” Professor Chapman said.