It’s been a privilege: Farewelling Professor Rae Frances

01 Nov 2022

It’s been a real privilege to end my academic career of over 40 years as Dean of CASS at ANU.

After five and a half years as Dean of the College of Arts and Social Sciences, Professor Rae Frances is farewelling ANU. 

Known around campus for her remarkable intellect and warm demeanour, Rae will be sorely missed by her colleagues and students.  

"It's been a real privilege to end my academic career of over 40 years as Dean of CASS at ANU,"she says. 

A professor of history, Rae has published widely on the history of work, women, Indigenous and European contact and religion. She has also co-edited several collections of essays on Australian and New Zealand history. 

Her books include The Politics of Work, which won the Australian Historical Association's Hancock Prize, Women and the Great War (co-written with husband Bruce Scates), winning the New South Wales Premier's History Prize and Selling Sex: A Hidden History of Prostitution, which was short-listed for the Ernest Scott History Prize.  

Rae's tenure as Dean of CASS coincided with some of the most challenging timesour University has ever faced, including bushfires, hailstorms, flooding and the COVID-19 pandemic.  

"During my time as Dean I have beenresponsible for constantly having to manage unfolding crises. Like many others, I found this exhausting at times, but overall, what I recall most is the extraordinary commitment, creativity and resilience of my colleagues at all levels of ANU," Rae says. 

Reflecting on the more challenging aspects of her role, Rae says she is grateful for the ethical leadership provided by our Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian Schmidt during these difficult times. 

"It made it much easier to do my job knowing that decisions at the top were motivated by genuine compassion and true academic values." 

When asked about her biggest achievement as Dean, Rae mentioned implementing cultural changes within CASS.   

"I've placed a strong emphasis on collegiality, cooperation and respect, and this has not been at the expense of our excellent rankings - indeed, I would argue that our generally positive culture has contributed to attracting and retaining the highest quality staff."

Under her leadership, Rae has also implemented an increased emphasis on Indigenous employment and Indigenous studies, the revitalisation of music, art and design, classics andthe College's increasing involvement in collaborative research and teaching with other academic disciplines.  

As Rae prepares to farewell ANU,she has exciting plans for her well-earned retirement.  

"I am looking forward to some rest and travel first off, then to getting stuck into a couple of research and writing projects that I'm keen to complete," Rae says.

"I also look forward to picking up lots of hobbies that have languished in recent years, especially gardening and learning Italian. I also have young grandchildren I'm keen to spend more time with - I'll certainly not be boredin retirement!"

Story by Pamela Hutchinson