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Wesley bestows greatest honour on two of our finest OWs

Philip Powell, Marianne Stillwell (outgoing President of the Wesley Council) and Professor Field Rickards
(L-R): Philip Powell, Marianne Stillwell (outgoing President of the Wesley Council) and Professor Field Rickards

At the Annual General Meeting of the Wesley College Council held on 4 May 2022, we were proud to announce the induction of two new Honorary Fellows of Wesley College:

  • Professor Field Rickards, BSc (Hons) MEd (Manch) PhD FACE; and
  • Philip John Powell, B Com (Hons), ACA, AICD

Following in the footsteps of his father and uncle, Field Rickards started at the College in The Hutch in 1958. He was Junior School Captain in 1962 and served as a Cadet Under Officer in the Cadet Unit of 1966, which was part of the ‘Guard of Honour’ for the Governor at the Centenary celebrations of the College and the opening of the new Junior School (then known as Syndal).

After leaving Wesley, Field went on to have an outstanding academic career. He completed a first-class Honours degree in Biophysics in 1970 before joining Prof. Graeme Clark in Melbourne University’s Department of Otolaryngology (Ear, Nose and Throat surgery) which was working on the development of a bionic ear.

Field and Professor Clark could see that such an ear on its own would not be sufficient to provide deaf children with a regular education. Early diagnosis, world class audiology and outstanding teachers of the deaf were the key. The University subsequently established the first graduate program in audiology and Field was appointed as the foundation lecturer to establish the program.

He went on to complete a specialist Master of Education degree at the University of Manchester, majoring in paediatric audiology and parent guidance for hearing impaired children, followed by a PhD in auditory neurophysiology.  He joined the Faculty of Education in 1989 as a Reader in Deaf Education and became the Foundation Professor of Education of the Hearing Impaired in 1994. He was appointed Dean of Education in 2004.

Field joined the Wesley College Council in 1987 and has been involved in an extraordinary range of decisions, including but not limited to:

  • The creation of the Senior School at Glen Waverley Campus,
  • The integration of Cato College and the creation of the Elsternwick Campus,
  • The progression of coeducation at the College,
  • The adoption of notebook computers as an integral part of a Wesley College education,
  • The adoption of the International Baccalaureate Diploma program, and
  • The creation and development of Wesley College Clunes.

Field became Vice President of the Wesley College Council in 1992 and President of the Council in 1999. In 1990, he began chairing the Selection Committee and was chair of three Principal Selection committees which appointed Glen McArthur in 1991, David Loader in 1995 and Helen Drennen in 1992.  He retired from the Council in 2003.

Our second inductee, Philip Powell, attended Wesley College from 1970 to 1973. He was a Cadet Under Officer in the Cadet Unit and played Hockey in the First XI, being awarded his Honour Colours in 1973.

After Wesley, Philip completed an Honours degree in Commence at the University of Melbourne before joining an international accounting firm and qualifying as a Chartered Accountant. He spent ten years in finance and management roles for a listed Australian financial services company and 17 years at a corporate finance advisory businesses in Melbourne. He has been, and continues to be, a non-executive director for a number of listed Australian companies.

Philip joined the Wesley College Council in 2007 and has been involved in a wide range of initiatives and achievements, including but not limited to:

  • The establishment and ongoing development of the Yiramalay Wesley Studio School,
  • The redevelopments of the Music School, Adamson Hall and Menzies Wing, St Kilda Rd Campus,
  • The purchase of the land known as the Cabbage Patch,
  • The lease of the buildings at the former Blind Institute,
  • The sale of the Rose Avenue properties, Glen Waverley Campus,
  • The decision to build and open Learning in Residence, the reestablishment of boarding at Wesley College,
  • The incorporation of the College and the establishment of the new constitution, and
  • The recovery after the fire at Glen Waverley in 2016.

Philip was Vice President of Council from 2014 to 2017, Chair of Finance and Risk Management Committee from 2010 to 2011 and 2016 to 2017. He was Chair of Nominations Committee from 2014 to 2017 and a member of the Ethics Committee, the Strategy Committee, the Remuneration Committee and the Foundation Committee before stepping down in 2017.

Philip has also made an extraordinary contribution to the written history of the College through his great interest in military history and has published a number of books including: Come On Lads: Old Wesley Collegians and the Gallipoli Campaign in 2015, Captain Robert Grieve VC in 2018, Come On Lads: Old Wesley Collegians and the Great War in 2019 and The Memorials and Graves of Old Wesley Collegians in World War I in 2021.  He has also contributed numerous Lion articles and is currently researching a book relating to World War II service.

Wesley College has gained an enormous amount from the service of Professor Field Rickards and Philip Powell and we thank them for their incredible service to the school community.