Peter Brown retires

Date: 

Thursday, 27th July 2017


On Wednesday, 70 School members gathered in the Scientia’s Tyree Room for a lunch to celebrate Peter Brown’s retirement.

Head of School Bruce Henry delivered a moving speech praising Peter’s extensive service to the School over the past 27 years. He cited many of Peter’s exceptional achievements, his remarkable work ethic, his dedication to his students and passion for teaching. Randell Heyman also said a few words and shared some anecdotes about his experience as one of Peter’s students.

Peter then got up to speak about his time at UNSW. He revealed some of his proudest achievements throughout his career; including the success of past students, his teaching awards, and his involvement in developing maths textbooks which are still in use today. He thanked staff for their support and friendship over many years.

Peter will continue on as an Honorary member of staff, and will undertake some teaching next year – “but it will be nice to have Mondays off”, he admitted with a smile.

All our very best Peter, we hope you enjoy retirement!

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Abridged version of Professor Bruce Henry’s speech at Peter Brown’s retirement function:

Peter joined the School as a Senior Tutor in 1990. It was clear from the start that Peter was an exceptional appointment. He possessed a very strong passion for teaching and was indefatigable in his service.

In the first few years at UNSW, Peter was teaching an average of 13 hours per week across a broad range of courses, including tutorials and lectures, he was lecturer in charge of teaching large second year service courses, he participated in Talented Students Day and the UNSW Schools Mathematics Competition, he ran staff development activities for new tutors, published articles in Parabola, and prepared reports on the Western Australia High School Mathematics Syllabus.

Peter’s appointment was converted to Associate Lecturer with tenure in 1993.

In 2000, Peter took a leave of absence to spend the year at Sydney Grammar School as a Mathematics Master.

Peter was promoted to Lecturer at UNSW in 2001. Then-Head of School Garth Gaudry’s letter of support commented on “a scholar of great breadth and depth, a man of remarkable versatility and talent, a leading teacher in the School, a scholar in the best classical sense, a model example of wide-ranging, selfless and enthusiastic contributions.”

From 2006 to 2010, Peter managed to find the time to co-author a set of eight textbooks covering the Australian Mathematics Curriculum from Year 7 to Year 10. The Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute initially published the textbooks, and more recently, were published by Cambridge University Press.

Student evaluations of Peter’s teaching have consistently been at leading levels. Peter’s outstanding teaching was recognised further in 2009, when Peter was presented with the Vice Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence. 

From 2011 to 2016, Peter was the Director of First Year Studies in the School of Mathematics and Statistics. In 2013, Peter was promoted to Senior Lecturer.

Peter was awarded a UNSW Science Staff Excellence Award for “Best Lecturer” in 2016.

Among other exceptional achievements and contributions, Peter has been involved in developing a training program for Tutors setting HSC Mathematics exams for both Public and Catholic Schools; giving numerous talks at High Schools and on Talented Student Days; preparing questions and solutions for the UNSW School Mathematics Competition; preparing modules, giving talks, and providing advice to support teaching the new Secondary School Mathematics National Curriculum; providing tutoring to disadvantaged students at Matraville Sports High; and publishing many scholarly articles including first time annotated translations of mathematics developed in medieval times.

A Facebook post announcing Peter’s retirement in late May was the most popular post in the five-and-a-half-year history of the School’s Facebook page. It received more than 12,000 hits, and 500 reactions (likes, sad face emojis, heart emojis…). A surge of comments flooded in, all in the same key; “best math lecturer I ever had”, “amazing”, “enthusiastic”, “passionate”, “brilliant”, “awesome”, “approachable” …

Peter is a talented and dedicated scholar and teacher; a person who is generous in sharing both their time and their skill; a person with the highest standards of integrity; a person ruled by logic, equity, and compassion, in fine balance; a highly valued and trusted colleague; a gentleman. 

Peter, on behalf of the School of Mathematics and Statistics, I would like to wish you all the best in your retirement. I look forward to having you continue with us as an honorary member of staff post-retirement. I know that you will continue to fill your life with things that bring benefit to others, and I know that you will continue to teach others, because these things are at your core. I hope you have more time to wander through those other dimensions too.

I cannot thank you enough for what you have contributed over many years to the staff and students of our School.

Thank you, Peter!