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Marianne Stillwell - Fellow of Wesley College

Our Fellows of Wesley College (L-R): Doug Turnbull, Prof. Graeme Samuel AO, Jim Barry OBE, Principal Nick Evans, Geoff Stephenson, Marianne Stillwell, Warwick Mitchell, President of Wesley College Council Prof. Rachel Webster AO and Peter Harrison

On Wednesday 1 May, the College was pleased to bestow a fellowship of Wesley College upon Marianne Stillwell. Marianne is the first woman to receive this honour, and few have such an outstanding record of service to the College.

Marianne Stillwell, a member of the Wesley College Council from 2006-2022, served as President from 2014-2022. During this period, she also served on the Finance and Risk Management Committee and from 2010-2013, chaired the Nominations Committee. Currently, she is currently a member of the Wesley College Foundation board.

Marianne first became part of the Wesley College community in 2000, when her son Julian (OW2014) joined the Junior School at the St Kilda Road Campus. Two other children - Cameron (OW2017) and Claire (OW2021), soon followed.

In 2006, Marianne joined the Wesley College Council, replacing retiring Vice President of Council, Linda Dessau, who went on to serve as the 29th Governor of Victoria from 2015 to 2023.

Marianne has a background in secondary teaching and has worked in Australia and the United States in the finance and automotive sectors including the family automotive business started by her father, Bib Stillwell. It was her deep understanding of the Australian education system, combined with her strong business acumen, governance and financial experience that made her an integral and highly valued member of the College Council.

During her time as President of the Wesley College Council, Marianne oversaw a number of significant changes at the College. These included:

  • The reopening of boarding at Wesley College, with the building of Learning in Residence at our Glen Waverley Campus;
  • The recovery program after the fire at Glen Waverley in 2016, which included overseeing the building of The Drennen Centre;
  • The ‘next chapter’ development at Clunes, which opened in 2022;
  • The land acquisition known as the Cabbage Patch;
  • The incorporation of the College in 2016, and the subsequent land transfer, which provided the College with a contemporary governance structure into the future, one of Marianne’s great legacies;
  • The development of the Yiramalay/Wesley Studio School, and later, the handover to Studio Schools Australia in 2022;
  • Overseeing the selection of, and transition to new principal, Nick Evans in 2019; and
  • During her time as President, the College increased enrolments from 3,100 to 3,400, reflecting strong demand for an education at Wesley.

Marianne was also President of the College during other significant moments for the College, memorable for different reasons. She was President during the College’s sesquicentenary in 2016, helping to plan an array of wonderful celebrations in our 150th year. In 2020 and 2021, it was her calm stewardship that helped guide the College community through the uncertainty of the pandemic.

In 2022, Principal Nick Evans wrote of Marianne: ‘Her example will remain with me as the purest form of servant leadership I have witnessed. I am not exaggerating when I say that she has made an historic contribution to this College. For me, personally, she made the sometimes difficult transition to Principal that much easier and, more importantly, she made it fun.’

Wesley College owes Marianne Stillwell a huge debt of gratitude for the extraordinary leadership and service she has given the College. She is a worthy recipient of the highest honour the College can bestow, that of Fellowship of the College.