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Copland, Sir Douglas Berry (1894–1971)

Sir Douglas Copland, who died on 27 September, had been 'a brilliant choice' as first Vice-Chancellor of ANU, Professor Dunbar, speaking as Acting Vice-Chancellor, said last week.

Professor Dunbar said that Sir Douglas Copland's five years as Vice-Chancellor had been outstandingly successful.

'He worked with energy, force and determination, imagination and liberality of view to set the University on the course of growth that led to its present stage of development,' Professor Dunbar said.

Sir Douglas assumed the Vice-Chancellorship in 1948, after having been Australian Minister to China, and resigned in 1953 to become Australian High Commissioner to Canada. He was awarded an honorary degree by the University in 1967 and the building that houses the Faculty of Economics is named after him.

Born and educated in New Zealand, Sir Douglas was for more than forty years a leader in the academic and public life of Australia, as a university teacher and economist, an administrator, public servant and diplomat, and a thinker and writer about questions of public policy.

He made a many-sided contribution to the teaching and study of economics and to the growth of both ANU and the University of Melbourne, where he became the first Sidney Myer Professor of Commerce at the age of 30 and Dean of the then new Faculty of Commerce.

He also contributed to the understanding of economic aspects of national development and to the management of public affairs, such as when he joined a small group of economists to report on Australian tariff policy in the late 1920s. He was also chairman of the committee whose report became the basis of the counter-depression policy which the Commonwealth and State governments followed from 1931 onwards.

In 1939 he was appointed Commonwealth Prices Commissioner and head of the price control organisation of the war-time administration. In 1941 he became economic consultant to the Prime Minister and held that office until the end of the war.

On going to Canada after his five years as Vice-Chancellor of ANU, he was not only Australian High Commissioner to that country but Australian representative at the United Nations, and was for a time Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council of the U.N. He returned from Canada to become the first Principal of the Australian Administrative Staff College.

The Chancellor, Dr H. C. Coombs and Professor Mathews, Professor of Accounting and Public Finance and a former personal assistant to Sir Douglas Copland, represented the University at the funeral service in Melbourne on Wednesday 29 September.

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'Copland, Sir Douglas Berry (1894–1971)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/copland-sir-douglas-berry-247/text248, accessed 17 April 2014.

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