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THWAITES, Peter Nelson OBE (1917-1984)

THWAITES, Dr Peter Nelson OBE (1917-1984)

Dr Peter Thwaites.

Dr. Peter Thwaites.

Dr. Peter Thwaites.  Portrait by Robert Hannaford.

Dr. Peter Thwaites.
Portrait by Robert Hannaford.

Dr Peter Thwaites was the seventh Principal of the Geelong College from 1960 to 1975 and became the founding Chancellor of Deakin University from 1978 to 1982. His portrait by Robert Hannaford is on display in the Senior School Dining Room.

Peter Thwaites was born at Toowoomba, Queensland on 11 May, 1917, the youngest son of R E Thwaites, a Principal of Ballarat College from 1933 to 1945. Peter was educated at Ivanhoe Grammar School, Geelong Grammar School and Trinity College, University of Melbourne where, in being awarded a BA he achieved first Class Honours in Mathematics. He then went to Trinity College, Oxford University where he obtained Second Class Honours at the final examinations in 1940 after three terms instead of the usual six terms as he wanted to volunteer for naval service. His war service included two years with the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve in the Atlantic Ocean and a further two years with the Royal Australian Navy in the Pacific. He returned to study gaining a BEd and then returned to Oxford in 1949 to do further research in education earning a MA. Dr Thwaites then joined the staff of Geelong Grammar School teaching senior mathematics and as a house tutor. From 1950 to 1956 he became headmaster of Guildford Grammar School, Western Australia before being appointed Principal of Ballarat College for three and a half years.

In 1960, just as the Geelong College approached its Centenary, he was appointed Principal, a position he retained until his resignation at the end of 1975 when he became increasingly involved with the planning for Deakin University. Apart from his work as a Principal, Dr Thwaites had considerable administrative experience in education. He was a member of the Headmasters’ Conference of Australia from 1950, and its Chairman between 1969 and 1971, and was also a member of the Headmasters’ Conference of Great Britain from 1950 to 1975. He was a member of the Executive Committee, and later Chairman of the National Council of Independent Schools from 1973 to 1975 and a member of the Interim Council and later Council of La Trobe University from 1964 until 1974. The extraordinarily wide span of his involvement with education is indicated by two other posts he held after his retirement from Geelong College. From 1976 to 1978 he was Executive Officer of the Victorian Institute of Secondary Education (VISE) and at the time of his death was still part time commissioner of the Victorian Post Secondary Education Commission (VPSEC).

Following his retirement from the Chancellorship of the University at the end of 1982, he remained a member of the Council of the University, and active on several committees. His services to education were recognised by the award of an OBE in 1977, and by the award of an Honorary Doctorate of Letters by Deakin University in 1983. The Northern Wing at Senior School was named the 'Thwaites Wing' in 1983 in honour of Dr P N Thwaites.

Sources: Bob Pritchard, Deakin University 22 February 1984. Obituary - Dr Peter Thwaites; The Age (Melb) February 1984 p 19.
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