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Hodgkin, David Kenneth (1914–1977)

David Hodgkin, c1972

David Hodgkin, c1972

photo supplied by Stephen Hodgkin

There was a large gathering in the Coombs Lecture Theatre on 9 March when the Society of Friends and members of the University held a memorial meeting for David Kenneth Ronald Hodgkin, former Registrar of the University, who died on 1 March after a brief illness. He was 62.

David Hodgkin came to Australia with his family in 1953 as Assistant Registrar in the early days of ANU. He became Deputy Registrar in 1957 and from 1961-67 he was Registrar, Institute of Advanced Studies. He was Registrar of the University and Secretary to Council from 1968 until his retirement at the end of 1974.

Born into a Quaker family in Darlington, England, David Hodgkin had wide experience of the Society of Friends in many countries. Before and during the 1939-45 war, he and his wife, Brigit, worked first at the Quaker centre, Vienna, where they helped refugees, and then served as founding wardens of the Friends International Centre in London.

Through Quaker International activities and other community interests, his active involvement in causes related to the search for peace continued throughout his life. He was a former president of the Canberra branch of the Australian Institute of International Affairs and a past-chairman of the Churches Commission on International Affairs of the Australian Council of Churches. His publications included articles on international relations, and Quakerism: A Mature Religion for Today (1971),

He returned to full-time Quaker service when he retired from the University and from 1974 until his death he was Secretary of the Australia Yearly Meeting of the Society of Friends.

In a tribute to him, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Anthony Low, said: 'David Hodgkin was not here when the University was founded. But he was here during all its years of major growth.

'His concern was always for people. I can testify that as a young, newly-joined member of the academic staff, 18 years ago, I was soon conscious that in the University administration there was a certain David Hodgkin, who, for no good reason I could think of, was taking an interest in how I and my family were settling into Canberra; who was apparently also interested in what my interests were, and what I was working on. He was always an exemplary listener; and as I was later to know, he was excellent too, with visitors, and with prospective appointees.'

'At the same time, he displayed a quite special dedication to the University as an institution. He cared for it; slaved for it; took pride in it. One recalls his physical presence, which was never intimidating; his deep bass voice; his close interest in being told something of which he had not heard before; his characteristically quick, warm chuckle. 'He brought dignitas to this place. Not dignity; he was not the man to stand for that. What was orderly, seemly, of good report, and imbued with the milk of human kindness — these were the things he stood for; and for these we remember him.'

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'Hodgkin, David Kenneth (1914–1977)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 8 December 2022.

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