Teacher honoured for scholarly contribution

Dr Michael Newth

A man who considered himself an "imposter within the walls" of Macquarie University has received its highest honour.

A distinguished early graduate of Macquarie University, Dr Michael Newth received a Doctor of Letters - honoris causa - from University Chancellor Michael Egan for his lifelong commitment to education and languages.

After receiving the honour during a recent graduation ceremony, Dr Newth told the new graduates, he was the first of his family to attend a university.

"My family had emigrated from England in 1965, at which time my only two passions had been music and football - and not even in that order. No one in my family had ever attended a university before," he said.

Dr Newth said on arriving on the then-new campus in 1968, courtesy of a teaching scholarship, he had felt an "imposter, an interloper within these walls".

A member of the first cohort of students in modern languages, Dr Newth graduated from the university with a Bachelor of Arts First Class and a Diploma in Education in 1973.

Legacy of education excellence

He helped establish a legacy of excellence in education for which Macquarie University is now renowned.

Dr Newth taught at East Hills Girls Technology School until his retirement in 2010 and was recognised as the backbone of the school's language department.

In 2009 he was nominated for an Excellence in Teaching award from the Metropolitan South West Region.

He told the graduation ceremony there were three senses a successful teacher needed: common sense, a sense of humour and a sense of collegiality.

"Remember too that school-teaching is a collaborative undertaking, not a personal quest. We aren't teachers of English, maths, art or whatever - we're teachers of children," he said.

International recognition

As a result of his lifelong study of the epic poems from the dawn of French literature - the chanson de geste - Dr Newth produced a range of scholarly papers for which he has received international recognition.

His academic work has been well regarded for its high quality of translation and extraordinary scope and is widely used for teaching among a number of universities internationally.

Macquarie University made the award to Dr Newth in recognition of the significant and continued contribution he has made to the area of learning and scholarship.

Photo: courtesy of Macquarie University

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