Professor Robert Officer AM, FASSA awarded Doctor of Commerce, Honoris Causa

By Niamh Cremins

Class of 1962, Emeritus Professor Robert Officer AM, FASSA returned to his alma matter for the 2019 University of Melbourne graduation ceremony where he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Commerce.

Professor Paul Kofman, Dean of the Faculty of Business and Economics said the award was well deserved and timely.

“Professor Officer has given years of distinguished service to the Australian community through his rare and exemplary blend of theory and practical application, to the benefit of many,” said Professor Kofman.

“He is an outstanding example of the best that the University offers: positive action that flows from a deep academic understanding.”

Professor Officer graduated from the University of Melbourne with a Bachelor of Agricultural Science in the early sixties but his interests soon saw him moving into financial economics where he made significant contributions to academia and business.

Graduating with a PhD from the University of Chicago in 1971, Professor Officer was at the forefront of applying economic principles to financial markets and decisions. On returning to Australia, he was one of an elite group who brought the systematic study of Finance into mainstream teaching and research.

Through his roles at the University of Queensland, Monash University and finally at the University of Melbourne, Professor Officer made important contributions to research, teaching and inspiring the next generation of financial economists.

Highly regarded by the Australian business community, Professor Officer quickly became a sought-after advisor and expert witness on financial issues.

One of Professor Officer’s most notable and lasting contributions has been to the reform of Australia’s taxation system. His rigorous analysis and advocacy of the imputation system of dividend taxation played an important role in its adoption in Australia in the late 1980s.

“It is not an exaggeration to say that this system has affected the decision-making of thousands of Australian companies and millions of shareholders,” said Professor Kofman.

“It has been a major reason why, unlike most comparable countries, Australia does not have a damaging inbuilt tax-based bias that encourages companies to borrow rather than raise new capital from shareholders.”

The Faculty of Business and Economics was happy to extend a warm and heartfelt congratulations to Professor Robert Officer on Friday 26 July 2019.

Banner image: (L-R) Professor Nilss Olekalns, President Academic Board, Professor Joseph Klewicki, Head of the School of Electrical, Mechanical and Infrastructure Engineering, MSE, Professor Paul Kofman, Dean, FBE and Sidney Myer Chair of Commerce, Emeritus Professor Robert Officer AM FASSA, Ms Wendy Stops, Council Member, University of Melbourne, Professor Adrian Little, Professor Vice-Chancellor (International), Professor Paul Jensen, Deputy Dean, FBE.