Former Vice-Chancellor, one of Australia's leading physicists and much-loved research mentor Emeritus Professor Robert Street has been permanently honoured at UWA.
The Robert Street Building is a monument to one of the University's outstanding individuals, whose contribution to his adopted home has been exceptional. The former General Purpose II Building was renamed late last month, with Professor Street, his wife Joan, their children and their spouses and a grandson among the guests.
A photographic portrait of Professor Street is now hung in the Robert Street Lecture Theatre in the newly-dedicated building. Before unveiling the portrait, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Alan Robson described his distinguished career.
The son of a Yorkshire coalminer, the young Robert Street studied physics and, very early on, chose the field of magnetism. After several years at some of England's most respected universities and having published landmark papers on magnetism and its time dependency, Professor and Mrs Street and their two young children moved to Australia in 1960.
He was appointed Foundation Professor of Physics at Monash University, later becoming Director of the Research School of Physical Sciences at the Australian National University.
In 1978 he took up the position of Vice-Chancellor at UWA and said he felt at that time that UWA was cherished by the community in a way that was unknown in other parts of Australia. He was Vice-Chancellor for eight years. He continued his research in magnetism through the CSIRO and UWA and is still involved, at the age of 90, with UWA researchers including Professor Tim St Pierre.
Professor Street said that it was 50 years, almost to the very day, when he and his young family had walked past the very place where guests were gathered to celebrate with him.
"We were on our way from England to Melbourne and the ship stopped off in Perth. We would have walked past here on our way to see the spectacular Christmas tree just down the road from this site," he said.
Among the guests were Judy Slater (nee Denning) and David Hewson who worked in the Vice-Chancellery as Professor Street's support staff.
"They protected me for eight years from things such as the wild Irishmen who came charging into my office on St Patrick's Day with green beer!" he recalled.
Professor Robson said: "In naming the building and lecture theatre in honour of Professor Street, we remind ourselves of the years of dedication and intellectual zeal he invested not only in our University but also in our State and our nation."
The Robert Street Building is the first of several UWA landmarks to be named in honour of past staff members who have made a significant contribution to the University.
Earlier this month, the old Biochemistry building was renamed the Curnow Building, in recognition of the long-standing contribution of the late Professor David Curnow, who held the position of UWA Chair of Clinical Biochemistry from 1968 to 1985.
Later this month, the pathway leading north-south from near Prescott Court and the Old Pharmacology building to the Business School will be named Underwood Promenade to honour the late Professor Eric Underwood and his contribution to UWA and agriculture.
Published in UWA News, 18 October 2010