Flinders University is lamenting the loss of one of Australia’s finest academics, Professor Graeme Hugo, who died on January 20 after a short battle with cancer.
A distinguished demographer, Professor Hugo, 68, made significant contributions to teaching and research at Flinders for more than two decades.
A Flinders alumnus (Master of Arts 1972), Professor Hugo began his remarkable career as a geography tutor at Flinders in 1968 before moving to Canberra to complete a PhD on population mobility in West Java.
He returned to Flinders in 1975 to work as lecturer, subsequently rising to the position of Reader in Geography. In 1991, he was appointed Director of the Australian Population and Migration Research Centre at the University of Adelaide.
As tributes flow from across the country, Flinders University Adjunct Associate Professor Clive Forster, who worked with Professor Hugo for 20 years in the Discipline of Geography, said he was an “inspirational teacher and mentor” to his students and colleagues alike.
“Everyone who worked with Graeme at Flinders will remember him not only as an inspiring teacher and an important researcher, but as an exceptional colleague in every way,” Associate Professor Clive Forster said.
“He was always very supportive and encouraging of researchers, and his passion for demography inspired generations of students – many of whom have gone on to hold influential roles both within the university sector and beyond,” he said.
“He was Australia’s leading demographer of the last 30 years and it’s a tragedy that he died at a time when he was working very actively on population issues in Australia and internationally.”
Professor Hugo was an inaugural recipient of Flinders University’s Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2006 for his vast contributions to academia as a teacher, researcher and author of more than 400 scholarly works; for his distinguished service to population growth, migration and ageing; and through various leadership and advisory roles, including service to government agencies and international organisations.
An Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) and an Australian Research Council Professorial Fellow, Professor Hugo was instrumental in establishing the postgraduate program in Applied Population Studies at Flinders, and made meaningful impacts on research at the Flinders-based National Institute of Labour Studies.
Flinders Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), Professor Andrew Parkin, said Professor Hugo’s reputation for a “prodigious work output” during his time as a geographer at Flinders serves as a lasting legacy to all members of the academic community in Australia.
Professor Parkin, who had ongoing contact with Professor Hugo after he left Flinders through his immigration research and through Graeme’s chairing of Australian Research Council and Research Quality Framework panels, said he was a man with a remarkable heart and mind.
“Graeme exerted a strong influence through his ability to convert a wealth of information into a clear diagnosis of a situation and sensible policy prescriptions,” Professor Parkin said.
“More importantly, Graeme was an academically and personally generous person who will be sadly missed by very many colleagues,” he said.