Graduations honour SA’s top judge and US scientist

small grad picDuring the April graduation ceremonies that will see some 1680 completing Flinders University students receive their degrees, honorary doctorates will be presented to SA Chief Justice Chris Kourakis and to US geoscientist Professor William L Fisher.

Eight ceremonies will be held on the University’s Bedford Park campus this week.

The University’s Chancellor, Mr Stephen Gerlach, said that the honorary awards reflect the University’s pride in, and appreciation of, its links with the two eminent recipients.

“The award of these honorary doctorates acknowledges two highly distinguished figures with a record of achievement and innovation in very different fields; Chief Justice Kourakis in the law, and Professor Fisher in geoscience and international energy resources,” Mr Gerlach said.

Chief Justice Chris Kourakis, who will receive a Doctor of Law honoris causa in law, grew up in Port Lincoln as the son of Greek immigrants, took a degree in law at the University of Adelaide before completing his articles with the law firm Johnston Withers McCusker, where he worked alongside Elliott Johnston QC, one of the foundation staff of the Flinders Law School. Admitted as a barrister and solicitor in 1982, on completion of his articles he moved to the Legal Services Commission, before joining the independent bar in 1989. He was was appointed a QC in 1997.

Returning to public service, he took on the role of Solicitor-General from 2003-2008. Appointed a Justice of the Supreme Court of South Australia in 2008, he succeeded the Hon. John Doyle as Chief Justice in June 2012.

He is recognised as one Australia’s leading law reformers in the area of civil litigation processes and the modernisation of court infrastructure, including the use of technology to make the administration of justice more efficient and accessible.

His long and close association with the Law Society of SA includes a term as its President.

Chief Justice Kourakis’ contributions to the life of Flinders University have included his delivery of keynote addresses at major conferences and University public lectures, including the Elliott Johnston Memorial lecture, and in Flinders Law School prize-giving and graduation ceremonies. He is a strong supporter of the University’s LOGOS Australian Centre for Hellenic Language and Culture.

In addition to his academic post as the Leonidas T Barrow Chair in the Jackson School of Geosciences at the University of Texas at Austin, Professor William L Fisher serves on the National Petroleum Council, which advises the US Secretary of Energy. He will receive a Doctor of Science honoris causa.

A former Assistant Secretary of Energy and Minerals in the US Department of Interior, Professor Fisher has chaired and served on numerous state and federal advisory boards, as well as committees and boards of the National Research Council of the National Academies, and professional societies. He has served on several corporate boards, both in the US and abroad.

He has been president of several professional bodies, and has received numerous awards from academic and industry organisations.

Professor Fisher’s research has focused in the areas of stratigraphy, sedimentology, and oil and gas assessment. His introduction of the concept of depositional systems is now fundamental to modern stratigraphy and sedimentology and is the basis for modern resource assessment. He has championed the importance of technology in resource availability and has been a leader in the rethinking of the significance of reserve growth from existing, geologically complex oil and gas fields.

Dr Fisher has collaborated with the National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training at Flinders regarding unconventional natural gas by participating in exchange visits, co-teaching short courses, undertaking visits to major Australian government agencies and lecturing in various Australian states and mentoring staff.

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