Honorary Doctorates for acclaimed astrophysicist and outstanding business leader

Thursday 3 May 2012, 1:19PM
By Victoria University


Victoria University of Wellington will confer honorary degrees on an acclaimed astrophysicist and a successful businessman during this month's Graduation ceremonies.

Professor Warrick Couch will receive the honorary degree of Doctor of Science and Sir John Anderson will receive the honorary degree of Doctor of Commerce.

Professor Warrick Couch, Director of the Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, is a distinguished astrophysicist who has greatly contributed to our knowledge of galaxies and dark energy.

He played a crucial role in the discovery that the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate, a finding which led to the lead scientists being awarded a Nobel Prize in Physics in 2011, which he attended in recognition of his contribution.

Since graduating from Victoria University with a Master of Science in 1977, Professor Couch has built an impressive academic record of publication in astrophysics research.

He has published 215 peer reviewed papers and received nearly 25,000 citations—a feat recognised with the honour of High Citation researcher, placing him in the top 0.5 percent of researchers in his field worldwide.

His research involves using large ground-based and spaced-based telescopes to observe galaxy clusters—the largest structures in the Universe—and he is involved in a number of national and international committees overseeing the management of these telescopes. In addition to his research activities, Professor Couch has worked to support young researchers and provide public comment on Australian astronomy internationally.

Professor Pat Walsh says Professor Couch has made an immense contribution to the field of astrophysics.

"He has worked tirelessly to illuminate our knowledge of the universe by interpreting what is written in the night skies. His prolific research activity has been of benefit worldwide."

Well-known Wellingtonian Sir John Anderson has a lengthy and outstanding list of achievements in business and service to the country.

He has had a long and successful career at the executive level in banking and finance. Sir John is particularly noted for leading the mergers of the National Bank of New Zealand with Rural Bank and Countrywide Bank. When the National Bank was sold to ANZ Bank Limited he was appointed Chief Executive and Director of ANZ National Bank, until retiring in 2005.

Sir John's skills have been called upon by successive governments. He has held numerous chairmanships across fields as diverse as health, industry, media, rural services, finance, the environment and regional governance.

A passionate cricket supporter, Sir John has also significantly contributed to New Zealand cricket. He is a former Chairman of New Zealand Cricket and represented New Zealand on the International Cricket Council Executive Board. He is also a former Chairman of the New Zealand Sports Foundation.

Professor Pat Walsh says Sir John's business achievements and community contributions make him thoroughly deserving of an honorary degree from Victoria.

"Sir John has been incredibly influential in New Zealand's financial industry, but he has also shared his wealth of experience with numerous other organisations. It is very appropriate for us to recognise and celebrate his service."