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Lifelong learning for
a fairer Australia

Lifelong learning for
a fairer Australia

Just a very special person

Tribute to Jack McDonell


 The staff and board of Adult Learning Australia were deeply saddened to hear of the passing of former ALA board member John ‘Jack’ McDonnell on the 10th August 2012 in Prahran, Melbourne.


Born 25th February 1926 in Bendigo, Victoria, Jack was made an Awarded Member of an Order of Australia in 1994 for his work in lifelong learning.


Jack attended University High School and received his PhD in Physics from the University of Melbourne in 1950. After several study tours to Europe, he joined the physics staff at Monash University, Melbourne, in 1961, where he became the Founding Director of the Centre for Continuing Education in 1973.


Jack was one of the founding fathers of the U3A Melbourne and also co-founded the Australian U3A Online Australia in 1998 with Dorothy Braxton and Rick Swindell.


“He’s left a brilliant adult education legacy,” says Rick who worked closely with Jack until he ‘retired’ four years ago. “His contribution to adult education will persist for years.”


“He was just a very special person,” recalls friend and colleague, Dorothy, “When you were organising a conference, you always said ‘you’ve got to get Jack!’ ”


Jack was on the board of the CAE (College of Adult Education) and was instrumental in setting up an organisation for university and continuing education agencies—The Standing Committee on Adult & Continuing Education in Higher Education.


Jack was valued on the ALA Board for his sharp mind that questioned constitutional matters over a number of occasions. He primarily worked around older person’s needs and represented seniors at a time when sectors were represented as Board members.


Jack was on the Board when increased funding provided for the appointment of the first Executive Director of ALA.  He retired from Monash University in 1989.


Jack’s other awards included Fellow of the Institute of Physics (UK), Fellow of the Australia Institute of Physics and Vice President, Federation of Australian University Staff Associations (1960-62).


Jack made a significant contribution to adult education in Victoria and Australia many count it a privilege to have known and worked with him.


He was the much-loved husband of Win, father of Ken and Russell and father-in-law of Colleen and Lorraine. Loved by 7 grand children and 6 great grand children. As per Jack’s wishes, he will be privately cremated.


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Adult Learning Australia

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