Professor Greg Hill's career has been marked by ambition, achievement and accolade.
Professor Greg Hill's career has been marked by ambition, achievement and accolade.

Professor who helped shape Coast uni retires

PROFESSOR Greg Hill will retire this week after a decade as vice-chancellor and president of the University of the Sunshine Coast.

From primary school teacher in his 20s to university leader in his 60s, his career has been marked by ambition, achievement and accolade.

In the 2020 Queen's Birthday Honours List, he received the award of Officer of the Order of Australia for his distinguished service to education, particularly the development of tertiary facilities in regional areas, and to the community.

USC's second vice-chancellor, Professor Hill joined the university in 2005 as deputy vice-chancellor with a firm agenda to ramp up research capabilities, broaden the range of degrees, boost its reputation for teaching quality, and strengthen its engagement with the region.

After taking the helm in 2011, he championed the establishment of the Sunshine Coast Mind and Neuroscience - Thompson Institute dedicated to teaching, research and clinical work in mental health, as well as USC's Clinical Trials Centre and partnership in the Sunshine Coast Health Institute.

His desire to see people from all backgrounds and circumstances given opportunities for university education led to the expansion of USC's geographic footprint, which now extends from the Fraser Coast to Moreton Bay.

USC Moreton Bay, which opened to students this year, is expected to grow quickly as the South East Queensland coastal corridor embraces the University's interest and investment, driving regional aspirations, employment and prosperity.

Professor Hill also focused on the needs of aspiring athletes seeking university degrees, guiding the development of a High Performance Student Athlete program and creating a comprehensive educational, clinical and training environment at USC.

Raised in Brisbane, the father of four adult daughters lives in the Sunshine Coast hinterland with his wife Laraine, who has joined in many USC events and activities during his tenure.

His farewell email to staff mentioned regret at not being able to return to his office on campus due to knee replacement surgery and the restrictions of COVID-19.

"When life settles down, I look forward to returning to say some goodbyes and I certainly intend to stay connected to our wonderful University," he wrote.

"It has been the best part of my working life in academia to have walked with you, and to have made the tertiary education impact we have achieved, on our now broad region.

"We have been able to make educational access a reality for these regional communities, including our First Nations peoples."

Professor Hill's commitment to Indigenous Australians came from his experiences in the Northern Territory while working at Charles Darwin University from 1995 to 2004. He was privileged to be adopted into the community of the White Eagle people from the Finnis River district.

The senior executive and academic with a BA Honours in Geography and a PhD in Wildlife and Statistical Ecology will no doubt keep an eye on research in his areas of remote sensing, wildlife ecology, environmental planning and education.

He is also likely to be seen back in the stands at USC Stadium to watch the Lightning, a locally based Super Netball team that USC and Melbourne Storm created in 2017, winning the grand final that year and the following year and helping put the Sunshine Coast on the national sports agenda.

USC Chancellor Sir Angus Houston congratulated Professor Hill on his retirement and praised him for his tireless work in developing the University.

"Professor Hill's leadership and vision over 10 years has enabled USC to become a university of international standing and an unsurpassed and invaluable community asset," he said.