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Vale Emeritus Professor Larry Smith

Monday, November 28 2016

Many years ago in a department far away, I (Michael Hall - ACPET NT) had the pleasure of working with a true gentleman/rogue in the then Qld Department of Education's Research Branch.  Many ACPET members would have engaged or argued with Larry and the last time I saw him was when he presented at an ACPET forum in Mackay about ten years ago - he was then the boss of the local TAFE... 

Emeritus Professor Larry Robert Smith, was affectionately regarded as the worst dressed professor on campus – a trait that belied his sharp intellect.

He grew up in Bardon in Brisbane and was descended from the pioneer, Ferdinand Charles Meurant, a silversmith who arrived in Australia in 1800. Larry's academic ability was apparent very early and he was awarded a BP scholarship while at the Ashgrove Primary School. This was followed by a scholarship to Brisbane Boys Grammar. It was here he mastered his skills in debating and was known as “blocker” for his blocking tactic in cricket.

His schooling was a positive in an otherwise unhappy childhood. His academic ability lead to enrollment in Medicine at the University of Queensland in 1968 aged 16. During this year he not only started to enjoy life but also realised he was more interested in the possibilities in education than a future in medicine.

He enrolled in Education and rapidly acquired many degrees including two Masters and ultimately a Doctor of Philosophy (Systems Analysis) in 1987 – examined at Oxford.

During this time he played in Mildred Butler's band at Cloudlands. And with this experience he was asked by the Gibb brothers of Bee Gees fame to join them.

He married Heather Christie in 1974 and they had three children.

Larry's introduction to the education and training sector was in the early 1980's in the Queensland State Public Service.

He quickly rose to the Senior Executive Service of the government, during which time he served as State Director (curriculum) and Director of the Strategic Research Unit for the Department of Employment, Education and Training.

He was an active academic for more than 30 years.

Larry served for 10 years as Director of the Graduate School of Business for Business Research at the University of New England and held leadership positions at numerous other educational Institutions, including TAFE, High Schools and other Universities in Australia and abroad.

Larry was a dedicated volunteer, contributing to numerous external committees involving higher education, leadership and quality assurance. These include: the Board of Governors, Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority; Deputy Chair, Australian Institute of Management; Chair, Australia Awards (Endeavour Scholarships); Member of the Prime Minister’s Awards Post-Graduate Panel; Panel of Assessors, Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia Fellowships Panel; Visiting Professor of Long South Bank University; and Honorary Expert of the Saudi Ministry of Higher Education.

His contributions to knowledge in the education and training sector include numerous published books, articles and presentations to education and industry forums and conferences.

Larry and Bedour A. Abouammoh's seminal publication in 2013, Higher Education in Saudi Arabia, provided the first comprehensive discussion and independent analysis of the university sector in Saudi Arabia.

Larry made significant contributions to advancing educational research, strengthening professional development and training and serving as a mentor to many new scholars in the field of education leadership both in Australia and internationally.

His contributions were greatly appreciated by both his colleagues and students, and he was a much loved figure at UNE.

At home Larry excelled at ... quoting Peter Cook and Dudley Moore sketches verbatim, outsmarting quiz shows, never losing a game of competitive sickness, and loved watching cricket, the Broncos and Clint Eastwood movies.

He unabashedly celebrated all things Queensland. So much so he kept his clock on Queensland time while living in Armidale.

He was one of the most humble and modest people that colleagues and friends encountered.

He cared deeply for the people who were close to him and placed others needs before his own.

He is survived by his children, grandchildren and his sister. 


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