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Professor Gilbert, who recently retired as the inaugural Vice-Chancellor of the University of Manchester, was an innovative and visionary leader.
His time with the University of Melbourne was during a period of great change in Australian higher education, and Melbourne was fortunate to have a Vice-Chancellor of such quality to guide it through.
Professor Gilbert encouraged one of Australia's oldest universities to extend beyond its physical and figurative boundaries to become a truly global institution, welcoming a steadily growing number of international students, extending enrolment capacities to accommodate a new and diverse student population, and setting a research agenda that would reinforce and further promote it as a high ranking international institution.
He is fondly remembered for having established the Melbourne Scholarships Program, an initiative designed to attract outstanding, high-achieving students and to support those in less fortunate circumstances in their studies.
Perhaps the most enduring legacy of Professor Gilbert’s tenure was the rapid expansion of the University's physical infrastructure through an ambitious building program that extended the campus into South Carlton, establishing the University Square precinct. The new Law School, ICT building and what has become the Alan Gilbert Building joined the Melbourne Business School and Graduate House to create a southern precinct, housing a significant proportion of the University's teaching and research programs and extending a distinctive Victorian-era public park to open at Grattan Street. It was also Professor Gilbert’s vision that led to the creation and building of the Bio21 Institute of Biomedicine and Biotechnology.
Colleagues fondly regarded Alan Gilbert as a very decent and intensely focused man, and he enjoyed enormous respect from those with whom he worked.
The University of Melbourne owes enormous gratitude to him for reinforcing our competitive research status, extending our teaching capacities and securing our financial certainty at a time of great institutional risk. His ambitious strategic vision, the 'Melbourne Agenda', aimed to establish the University of Melbourne as "one of the finest universities in the world." We are the fortunate heirs to his vision.
We mourn his loss and extend our sympathies to wife Ingrid, daughters Shelly and Fiona, and grandchildren Ben, Shan and Ted.
Professor John Dewar