Hall of Excellence Gala Dinner triumph

5 March 2015

Some of the members of Assumption's Hall of Excellence.

Assumption College paid homage to the talent and excellence the school has inspired over many years in a fitting tribute to former students at Palladium at Crown on Saturday, February 28. 2015.

The first 20 names to go into the Assumption Hall of Excellence together with the official greatest ever VFL/AFL team (on next page) were announced. The following high achievers and sporting greats have done the college proud with their achievements.

 Hall of Excellence Inductees

     (Click on slides below for photos of the inductees)


Bishop Peter Connors – Bishop Emeritus of Ballarat

Bishop Connors was the seventh Bishop of Ballarat for 14 years until he retired in 2012 and he celebrated 50 years of ordination in 2011. He’d previously been an auxiliary bishop of Melbourne and worked in the parishes of Kyneton, Frankston and East St Kilda. Upon his retirement Fiona Tonkin, who worked closely with him, described him as “a man of the people” whose “capacity to listen and hear the joys, the sorrows, the pain and the celebrations of his people has given us all an understanding of what to expect of a good shepherd”.  Bishop Peter was a student at Assumption College from 1949 to 1953.        

Dr Frank Leahy

Dr Leahy qualified as a surveyor in 1959 and worked in the field for nearly six years. He began lecturing on surveying in the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Melbourne in 1965 and continued to do so until retiring from full-time work in 2005. He obtained his PhD in 2009 and in the same year received an honorary degree of Doctor of Engineering from the university. His formal research was centred on computer algorithms for geodetic (earth-measuring) computations. The research for which he is most proud is the development of software packages for the adjustment of large geodetic networks and the establishment of Australia’s maritime boundaries.  Frank attended Assumption College from 1948 to 1955 and was Dux.  

Dr Gavan John Butler AM

Dr Butler was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 2013. Gavan obtained his Master of Agricultural Science degree in 1965 from the University of Melbourne and graduated with a Doctor of Philosophy degree in agricultural and international economics from the University of California, Berkeley in 1969. He joined the academic staff of the University of Sydney in 1971, lecturing in economics and later political economy until he retired in 2005. His primary research interest has been in the development of the state, economic policy and human resource development in Southeast Asia. Gavan attended Assumption College from 1954-57. 

Dr James Thomas (Jim) Cummins

Dr Cummins graduated from the University of Melbourne in 1967.  He had a long association with St Vincent’s Hospital Fitzroy, holding several senior positions in its Department of Clinical Neurosciences and the Melbourne Neuromuscular Research Centre. For 29 years he taught medical students at St Vincent’s and also contributed significantly to postgraduate medical education and to education in medical research.

His research with scientist Dr Iain Clarke led the way in research to gain a greater understanding of the relationship between the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland and the peripheral target organs. Their findings helped develop therapies for a number of clinical disorders and to gain a greater understanding of human reproduction. The fundamental principles that were laid down by their work will stand for all time, and led to 45 publications in learned journals.

Jim retired from surgery in 2003 and until recently was a consultant to many medical panels. He attended Assumption from 1949-51. 

Associate Professor John Timothy (Jack) Kennedy AM

A graduate of the University of Melbourne, Dr Kennedy was the first Australian to undertake training in otolaryngology, head and neck surgery at the University of Iowa from 1969-1973. He pioneered the introduction of ENT, head and neck surgery in Australia in 1973. He was Director of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery at St Vincent’s Public Hospital from 1974-2006, and is currently Director of East Melbourne ENT Head & Neck Clinic. He is consultant ear, nose and throat, head and neck surgeon to the Collingwood Football Club and one of the club’s vice-presidents. He attended Assumption College from 1951 to 1957 when he was school captain. Dr Kennedy was named in the 2016 Queen's Birthday Honours as a members (AM) in the General Division of the Order of Australia “for significant service to medicine, particularly in the field of otolaryngology, to medical education and training, and to the community”.

Dr Kerry John Breen AM

We honour Dr Kerry Breen for service to medicine through the advancement of medical ethics and professional standards of training and practice, and to the specialty of gastroenterology as a clinician and teacher.  He graduated from the University of Melbourne in 1964 and obtained his Doctor of Medicine degree there in 1975. For 36 years he practised at St Vincent’s Hospital, Fitzroy where he filled many senior roles. Among other appointments he was president of the Australian Medical Council, a member and chairman of the Australian Health Ethics Committee of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and later its commissioner of complaints. He  attended Assumption College from 1955-58. (Recent photo supplied by the NHMRC). 

Reverend Professor Austin Cooper OMI, AM

Professor Austin Cooper was appointed a member of the Order of Australia in 2004: “For services to education and scholarship, particularly through the Melbourne College of Divinity, and to the community through the Oblates of Mary Immaculate Congregation.” He was ordained in 1956 and holds a master’s degree from the Catholic University of America and a PhD from Monash University. Austin was the first master of Catholic Theological College from 1972-76 and served two further terms as master from 1992-94 and 1998-2002. He lectures in Church History and Christian Spirituality. Austin attended Assumption College from 1943-47. 

Mr Francis Bourke

Francis was one of Assumption’s best players ever, and after he left school at 16 he began playing with Nathalia where he was spotted by Richmond. He couldn’t be recruited under the father-son rule because Kevin hadn’t played enough games. However Francis did play a few matches with Richmond in 1965 and in 1966, and was finally recruited by the Tigers in 1967.  He was an exceptionally versatile player and helped the club win the flag in 1967. This was the first premiership for Richmond in 24 years and earned him a permanent playing position. The club also won grand finals in 1969, 1973, 1974 and in 1980. He represented the Big V in 1968 and was the second runner-up for the best and fairest award.  Francis was made club captain in 1976 and retired in 1981 after playing over 300 games.  

A few months after retiring as a player, he was asked to return as coach and led the Tigers to their third minor premiership. He was one of the few coaches to lead his team to a grand final in his first season. He was named in the AFL’s team of the century, conferred as a Richmond Immortal, and inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame in 2002. He attended Assumption in 1963. (Photos at MCG used with permission of AFL Media).

Mr Fred Schepisi AO

We honour Fred Schepisi for his service to the Australian film industry as a director, producer and screenwriter and for his role in the development of creative talent as a mentor. That is why he was made on Officer of the Order of Australia in 2004. His first full-length feature film was the semi-autobiographical The Devils Playground (1976) which established his reputation as a talented director, writer and producer.  He has made 16 other films including The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (1978), Barbarosa (1981), Iceman (1983), Roxanne (1987), Evil Angels (1988), Six Degrees of Separation (1993), The Russia House (1990), IQ (1994), Last Orders (2001), It Runs in the Family (2002), Empire Falls (2004), The Eye of the Storm (2010), based on the Patrick White novel, and Words and Pictures (2013). He was at Assumption from 1948-52. 

Mr John Robert Iacono OAM

We honour John “for service to education in Victoria through the Swinburne University of Technology and the Australian Catholic University”. John taught in Melbourne primary schools from the mid-1950s to the late-1960s after studying at Geelong Teachers College. In the 1960s and ‘70s he studied part time at Monash University where he completed an MEc in Econometrics. He began lecturing in the Mathematics Department at Swinburne University, known then as Swinburne College of Advanced Education, in 1971. He spent time as principal lecturer in the department and head of the School of Mathematics Sciences at Swinburne before he retired from full-time employment in 1996. John has said that, “While transformation has been a given, the one thing that never changed for me, and the thing that kept my inspiration alive, was my enthusiasm and passion for teaching”. He attended Assumption College from 1943-51.  

Dr Max Charlesworth AO

Dr Max Charlesworth is honoured for his service to philosophy, bioethics and education. Those are the words on the citation that accompanied his appointment as a member of the Order of Australia in 1991. In addition, Paul Collins, in his obituary, described Max as “probably the most influential and important Catholic layman in the history of 20th century Australian Catholicism. His contributions to Catholic intellectual life are without parallel.” Max obtained his MA in philosophy from the University of Melbourne in 1948.  He wrote 20 books, and his last work was an essay entitled “A Democratic Church: Reforming the Values and Institutions of the Catholic Church”. Max was in the Assumption class of 1942 and an ardent Blues' supporter. 

Mr Francis (Frank) Prendergast

We honour Frank for his distinguished service, in particular for his contribution to federal and international police operations. His service was also recognised when he received the Australian Police Medal from Governor-General Quentin Bryce in 2010. Frank joined the federal police in 1986 and has filled a variety of roles in Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and Canberra. From 2008 until 2012 he was national manager of the International Deployment Group responsible for deploying Australian and Pacific Island police overseas on peacekeeping and capacity development operations for the AFP and the United Nations. During that time the International Deployment Group played a vital role in meeting regional security requirements and had members deployed to Afghanistan, Cambodia, Cyprus, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Sudan, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Vanuatu and the UN. Last September he became the Solomon Islands Police Commissioner. He attended Assumption College from 1978-79.

Mr James (Jim) Dominguez CBE, AM

We honour Jim for his services to the community and merchant banking. On a voluntary basis, Jim is on the Marist Finance Commission, is chair of St Vincent's Hospital, Sydney, Director of the Garvan Institute of Medical Research and a Fellow of the governing body of the University of Sydney. He was a governor of the University of Notre Dame Australia for 13 years until 2012. He has been a director of the Sisters of Charity Foundation since 2011. Jim’s work was acknowledged in his citation when he became a member of the Order of Australia in 1987.  In his professional life, Jim co-founded the Stock Exchange Member firm Dominguez & Barry in 1976 (later to become Dominguez Barry Samuel Montagu, then SBC Dominguez Barry and now UBS Australia) a juggernaut in the Australian investment banking market. He attended ACK from 1954-55. 

Mr Hiram (Joe) O’Sullivan

We honour Joe for the tremendous work he did with the Assumption College Foundation, launched on Assumption Day 1978 to help raise funds for the College’s development. After a year, $65,000 had been invested, and at the first AGM, Joe was elected chairman of the foundation. By 1980, $100,000 had been raised from memberships and investments. The foundation’s immediate success was due, mainly, to early publicity and from Joe’s personal contact with old collegians. In 1993 the foundation presented Br Paul Kane, who was then principal, with a cheque for $1million, and by 1996 had contributed to a wide range of capital works including The admin. block, the Heinrich Centre, the Kenneth Wing and science laboratories in the Daly Wing. Joe was an Assumption student from 1933-37. 

Mr Michael (Mick) Burns

Since arriving in the Northern Territory in 1981 Michael has made a name for himself in the hotel and licensed venue business, in the crocodile industry and more recently as a developer. He built Crocosaurus Cove in Darwin in 2009. This $32-million venture, which he still operates, has provided the city with a unique inner city wildlife-based attraction that allows visitors to see Top End crocodiles.He owns and operates the Darwin Crocodile Farm, housing approximately 140,000 saltwater crocodiles. Last August the NT News named Mick “the most powerful man in the NT” and explained why: “We picked him because he’s got the ear of the Chief Minister and anyone else who matters in the NT.” He’s state president of the Australian Hotels Association and Chairman of the Tiwi Bombers football club. It’s believed to be the first all-Aboriginal team to play in a major competition, the AFLNT. He was an Assumption student from 1976-79. Photos used with permission of the NT News.

Ms Gabrielle Richards

We honour Gabrielle, who plays with Bendigo Spirit in the Women's National Basketball League.  She had a break-out season in 2012-13 being named in the All Star 5 and helped guide the Spirit to its first WNBL championship. Gabrielle earned All-Star Five honours in 2014, where the Spirit went on to claim back-to-back titles. She represented Australia as a member of the Opals which competed in the FIBA World Championships for women in Turkey last September. She took up a scholarship at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra at the end of year 11 and was there from 2002-04. She played for the AIS in the WNBL and completed her schooling.  Gabrielle accepted a scholarship at the University of Oregon where she played from 2004-07 before returning to Australia. She attended ACK from 2000 to 2001. 

Mr Shane Crawford

We honour Shane for his generosity of spirit in raising thousands of dollars for Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA). In 2010, he embarked on an 11 day ultra-marathon from Adelaide to Melbourne, which he dubbed: That’s What I’m Walkin’ About which raised an incredible $500,000 for BCNA. In 2013, he raised $1.32 million for the network riding from Melbourne to Perth in 22 days, a distance of over 3600 km, on the Tour De Crawf. And while a contestant on Celebrity Apprentice he raised nearly $50,000 for the organisation. We salute his very successful media and writing career. He has had a long association with Channel Nine as a key member of The Footy Show, The Sunday Footy Show and more recently Postcards and KidsWB. And, of course, it is fitting that we acknowledge Shane’s 305-game career at Hawthorn where he won the Brownlow in 1999. Considered one of the greatest midfielders in the modern era of football, he was inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame in 2012. He was a boarder at ACK from 1990-92. (Photo at MCG used with permission of AFL Media.)

Simon Costa

Simon works as a volunteer with the United Nations’ World Food Programme. He has been drawn to the horror of people dying of starvation and the alarming levels of food loss across Africa. In 2014, Simon implemented trials with farmers in East and West Africa and has managed to reduce their food losses by over 98% because of more efficient farming methods and the use of metal silos. Those trials now involve more than 100,000 people with similar, incredible results. Simon is working closely with The World Bank, the US government, and major donors such as Bill Gates, to involve millions of families whose lives and food security are being improved. Simon was previously managing director of one of Australia's largest privately owned organisations and the largest horticulture and supply-chain company in the Southern Hemisphere. He quit in 2012 to try to improving the operational effectiveness and efficiencies within humanitarian organisations. He was at ACK from 1982-85.

Simon Patrick O’Donnell

We honour Simon O’Donnell for his magnificent contribution to Australian cricket, the Australian media and the world of horse racing. After playing 24 games for St Kilda in the early 1980s he concentrated on cricket, playing Sheffield Shield for Victoria. He skippered the side from 1988–89 until his retirement in 1993. Simon played six Test matches in 1985, five on the Ashes tour of England and one at home. A limited-overs specialist, this death bowler and finisher played 87 one-day internationals between 1985 and 1992 and played in Australia's 1987 World Cup Final victory. Simon was voted international cricketer of the year in 1990-91. For more than 20 years he worked for the Nine Network as a commentator. Simon dreams of winning a Melbourne Cup and thought one of his horses, Bauer, had won in 2008, but a high-resolution image showed Viewed had crossed the line by a nose. He attended Assumption College from 1978-80. 

Thomas (Tom) Dumaresq OAM

In 2007  Tom received an Order of Australia Medal for his service with overseas aid group Assisi and for his involvement in environmental, church, education and emergency services groups in the Goulburn Valley. Tom was a founding member of Assisi Aid Projects with Sister Stella 40 years ago. Assisi works with local partners to deliver education, health, microfinance, and women’s empowerment projects aimed at breaking the cycle of poverty. It supports communities in Cambodia, India, the Solomon Islands and East Timor. After the 2004 Tsunami, Tom appealed for funds on talk-back radio. He raised $215,000 which helped the people of Southern India rebuild their lives. This included providing them with fishing boats. Tom was an Assumption student from 1953-56.