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Tribute to the late former Notre Dame University Chancellor


In 2018, Professor Michael Quinlan’s work in medicine and clinical services over many years was recognised with an Order of Australia (AO). Photo: Sourced.

Leading and highly respected Australian physician, educator and one of the founders of the University of Notre Dame Australia (UNDA), Professor Michael Quinlan AO, has passed away in Perth on 2 October 2020.

Aged 82, Prof Quinlan died peacefully at his beloved St John of God Hospital, Subiaco, where he was a consultant for many years.

Prof Quinlan’s contribution to the initiation, establishment and development of UNDA was profound.

He served on its original Planning Board (commencing in 1987), as an inaugural Trustee and Governor (1991), as Foundation Dean of the College of Health (1999), and the first Professor of Medicine in the first Medical School of its kind in Australia.
Often referred to as a founding father and Trustee of UNDA, Prof Quinlan was appointed Chancellor in 2008 until retiring from the role in 2011.

Prof Quinlan is now being remembered by colleagues and friends as a man of great, integrity, knowledge, skill and energy who had a sustained commitment to his profession and the advancement of health care generally.

Fellow academics who worked with Prof Quinlan have said his guidance and counselling to hundreds of medical graduates in WA is legendary.

He also supported medical and nursing students with annual scholarships over many years.
Current UNDA Chancellor Chris Ellison said Prof Quinlan made an outstanding contribution to UNDA as a former Chancellor, particularly in setting up the Medical School.

“His service to medicine and the community in this State was significant and we will all miss him dearly,” the Hon Ellison stated.

Prof Quinlan held many placements at health organisations including a Fellowship of the Royal Australian College of Physicians; Director of the Medical Institute at St John of God Hospital, Subiaco as well as Chair of the Governing Board of St John of God Health Care and Director of the inaugural board of the Sisters of Charity National Governing Board and West Australian Director at the Child Health Research Foundation.

In 1998, he was awarded the College Medal by the Royal Australian College of Physicians and in 2002, St John of God Health Care, Subiaco, established the Annual Michael Quinlan Oration to honour him.

In 2018, Prof Quinlan’s work in medicine and clinical services over many years was recognised with an Order of Australia (AO).

While Dean of the College of Health, a pivotal role in the history of the University, Prof Quinlan wrote; “With the establishment of the University, a deliberate decision to make the core subjects of Philosophy, Theology and Ethics mandatory for all courses was taken.

“This underpins the desire to educate all students in the true meaning of the word – to give intellectual, moral and social instruction.

“Words reflect or develop ideas and the word ‘educe’ comes from the original Latin derivatives of ‘e’ meaning ‘out’ and ‘du cere’ meaning ‘to lead’.

“We want all our students to develop their leadership talents to graduate, not just with knowledge, but also with informed intellects, informed minds and informed consciences – education in the true sense of that word. The potential to influence the community at large is without boundaries or limitations.”

Vice Chancellor Emeritus Dr Peter Tannock recalled Prof Quinlan as a devoted husband to Carole Waddell whom he married in 1965 and a loving father to five children.

Dr Tannock knew Prof Quinlan as a great friend, loyal, understanding, resilient and caring. A gentle but very strong person with a tremendous depth of the Catholic faith and someone who devoted his life to the service of the Church and its mission in health care.

“Michael was extraordinary in so many ways,” Dr Tannock expressed.

“He had such a great commitment to Notre Dame, its health care, nursing, physiotherapy, health sciences and of course medicine.

“Everyone who knew him saw him as an inspirational leader, a person of great quality, a beautiful and good man. He will be a great loss to many.”