Geoffrey Norman VAUGHAN (1933 - 2018)

Dean & Director, Victorian College of Pharmacy (1979 -1986)
Director, Chisholm Institute of Technology (1987 - 1990)
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (1990 - 1992)

Geoffrey Vaughan

Former Monash Deputy Vice-Chancellor Dr Geoffrey Norman Vaughan AO died on 4 January, 2018, aged 84. Dr Vaughan was a man of many talents. An outstanding academic and researcher, both his intellectual and sporting prowess was considerable. He was also a dab hand in the kitchen.

Dr Vaughan rose through the ranks of academia from his first job in 1961 as lecturer in Pharmaceutical Chemistry at the Victorian College of Pharmacy (VCP) to becoming deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) at Monash without ever needing to write a job application.

His extrovert personality (with a self-confessed certain amount of ego), considerable intellect, enthusiasm and vigorous approach were behind his remarkable career success. And his robust frame nevertheless came in handy on the rugby field where he was a prop-forward for the Wallabies in the 1950s, claiming a total of six international caps for Australia.

Born in Homebush in 1933, he began his academic life at Sydney University where he graduated with a BSc and MSc. In 1961 he completed a PhD in the Chemotherapy of Tuberculosis at Melbourne University.

Dr Vaughan worked his way up the ladder to become Dean of Chemistry and from 1979 to 1986 he was Dean and Director of the VCP.  A prominent feature of his term in office was raising the College’s profile in educational and professional circles and developing a strong research program.

In 1987, Dr Vaughan was invited to take up the position of Director of the Chisholm Institute of Technology at Caulfield, where his strong leadership, negotiating skills and reputation for fairness greatly eased its passage through choppy waters when it merged with Monash three years later.

Geoff was well-known and highly regarded for his research work and was the author of many papers and publications both in the fields of pharmacy and education. He lectured throughout the world and had a strong affiliation with Kansas University where he was heavily involved in the establishment of a doctoral program conducted jointly between the University and the VCP. He was also a visiting professor at the University of Sains Malaysia, Penang, where he was engaged as a consultant to the pharmacy course.

As DVC, his diplomatic and leadership skills once again contributed to the University’s successful merger with his old stomping ground, the Pharmacy College at Parkville in 1992. After leaving Monash that same year, he became National Manager of the Therapeutic Goods Administration in Canberra where he oversaw the clearance of all legacy drug applications and the introduction of more modern, patient-centred processes.

Geoff has been described by his colleagues as an “extraordinary human being” and a “first class communicator” with the gift of putting his ideas across in a language accessible to everyone, without condescension. Garrulous and occasionally autocratic, he once described himself as shy and given to worry.

Away from work, his many interests included gardening, goat-farming and baking bread, at which he excelled. Since the ancient tradition depends on a cascade of chemical reactions, it is perhaps not surprising that he scooped accolades at the Royal Melbourne Show for his artisan loaves.

Dr Vaughan was a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (AATSE) and was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws in 2007 in recognition of his exemplary service and achievements.  He was a Fellow of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia and a member of the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain. In 2003 he was the recipient of a Centenary Medal and three years later was appointed an Officer in the Order of Australia (AO).  His broad scientific knowledge led to his involvement with a number of outside organisations which lasted long into his retirement.

Dr Vaughan’s wife, Jennie, died in 2014. The couple are survived by their four children, David, Michael, Peter and Jane.

Extended version of tribute published in The Insider, 8 February 2018.