Top Indigenous scholar joins JCU

16 March 2016

One of Australia’s top Indigenous scholars will lead James Cook University’s new Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Centre.
Prof Martin Nakata has been appointed Pro Vice Chancellor of the Centre and will take up the position in early May.

James Cook University
Professor Martin Nakata (Photo: JCU Media)

Prof Nakata was one of JCU’s inaugural Outstanding Alumni. He was also the first Torres Strait Islander in Australia to graduate with a PhD, and this was completed at JCU.
He grew up in the Torres Strait and undertook his schooling on Thursday Island, and has strong ties to these and many other communities across the northern and far northern areas of Queensland.
Prof Nakata is also internationally recognised as an outstanding scholar in his own right—both in terms of learning and teaching, and research. His work has challenged the established ways of understanding the contemporary position and possibilities for Indigenous Australians.
Prof Nakata said, “It is a real privilege for me to return to JCU after almost twenty years at other universities, to assist the effort to provide pathways into higher education for Indigenous people in our region.”
He comes to JCU from the University of New South Wales and brings extensive research, management and strategic experience to James Cook University.
“I have achieved much on the back of support from my communities and JCU, and I am excited to now be in a position to give back some of what I have gained.
“The Indigenous Centre has also achieved much over the past decades, but I think it is now in a position to do much, much more. I have been appointed to do just that,” Prof Nakata said.
JCU’s Senior Deputy Vice Chancellor, Professor Chris Cocklin said he is absolutely delighted that Professor Nakata will be joining James Cook University.
“He is widely acknowledged for his work in promoting the successful participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in higher education.”
“Professor Nakata was the first Torres Strait Islander to be awarded a PhD degree and he earned that degree from James Cook University. It is wonderful that he is now returning to JCU to provide leadership to the university’s activities in regard to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
“JCU is very fortunate indeed to have him take up the leadership of our new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Centre,” Prof Cocklin said.
The Centre was established last year and will deliver improved educational outcomes for Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and builds on the university’s excellence in teaching and research related to Indigenous issues.

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