An interim Vice-Chancellor
After 33 years at Monash, Peter Darvall’s list of achievements was particularly long. He started out as a Lecturer of Engineering in 1970 and quickly rose through the ranks of the Faculty. In 1987, he was appointed Dean of Engineering. His excellent teaching, strong research record and long service to the Faculty made him a clear choice to lead it. A joker and a popular lecturer, he was well respected by staff and students alike. Professor Darvall was appointed Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Development) and became Monash’s sixth Vice-Chancellor after the controversial resignation of David Robinson in 2002.
While Professor Darvall wasn’t interested in doing the long haul in the top job, he agreed to do it for one year, and would then retire from academia. He was a solid choice, bringing experience in research, teaching and administration to the top job, and proving a unifying and stabilising influence on Monash. Much reference was made to his area of engineering expertise: reinforced concrete.
Only months after accepting the job, Darvall faced one of the biggest challenges of any Monash Vice-Chancellor following the shootings on the Clayton campus. Perhaps his greatest contribution to the University was in leading the community through the aftermath of this event in October 2002.
After his retirement, Darvall was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws (Monash, 2004) and was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 2007.