SAHMRI Chair awarded special honour

27 Sep 2023
SAHMRI Chair awarded special honour

SAHMRI Chair, the Hon. Hieu Van Le AC has received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of South Australia, in recognition of his outstanding contributions to society.

From the moment he arrived in Australia as a refugee fleeing Vietnam after the fall of Saigon, Mr Le embraced Australian culture, dedicating his life to serving South Australia.

Embodying resilience, determination and community spirit, Le was the first Asian-Australian to become Governor of South Australia, and the first Vietnamese-born person in the world to be appointed to a Vice-Regal position.

Throughout his extensive public roles, including a seven-year tenure as Governor, Mr Le has been unwavering in his commitment to promoting cultural diversity, the arts, business and education. His charitable and community work continues today.

UniSA Vice Chancellor Professor David Lloyd says he is honoured to welcome such an accomplished agent of change into the University community.

“Hieu’s achievements, from fostering greater appreciation of diversity and helping refugees establish new lives, to contributions in business, the arts and education, align with UniSA’s commitments to social justice and laying the foundation for formidable careers,” Prof Lloyd said.

“His determination to make the world a better place is reflected across a lifetime of outstanding community and business pursuits that have made him a popular and respected leader in South Australia.”

Addressing graduating UniSA students at Pridham Hall, Hieu Van Le shared the story of his passage to Australia as a young newlywed with wife Lan, where he took on the role of navigator and leader in an arduous boat journey.

Le says growing up in a culture that revered education instilled in him a profound respect for knowledge.

“As a young refugee arriving in Australia, my study for my economics degree from Vietnam was not recognised, prompting me to return to university,” Mr Le said.

“I immersed myself in the rich tapestry of the university experience, delved into Australian history, embraced the intricacies of Australian politics and the arts and observed the social dynamics and new culture. Completing my degree was not just an academic achievement but also an orientation to Australian life, which I thoroughly enjoyed and cherished profoundly.”

Mr Le encourages all students to be, “compassionate, ethical leaders who champion inclusivity, diversity and social justice”.

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