A new chapter

By the time Endersbee tendered his resignation as Dean of Engineering, the University had become more experienced in the process of advertising for and appointing new deans. In September 1987, University Council once again set up a Selection Committee for the Deanship of the Faculty of Engineering. It appears to have been a relatively straightforward process. The Committee met twice in late 1987 before recommending that Peter Darvall be appointed Dean of the Faculty of Engineering for a period of five years, commencing in March 1988.

Peter Darvall’s appointment signaled the beginning of the next chapter of the Faculty’s history. Unlike Lance Endersbee, Peter Darvall came from the inside – he was already a staff member of the Faculty of Engineering, and in fact, had been at Monash since 1970.

Darvall was born and educated in Melbourne. He began his tertiary education at the University of Melbourne where he graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) in 1963. After graduating, Darvall worked as an engineer in industry for some months before travelling to America to undertake additional graduate studies – first at Ohio State University and then at Princeton. By 1969 he had completed his PhD and returned to Melbourne.

After his return to Australia late in 1969, Darvall began working as a structural engineer for Maunsell and Partners Consulting Engineers. While he ultimately hoped to move into academia, Darvall was content to work in industry until an appropriate university position became available. He did not have to wait long. A lectureship was advertised in the Faculty of Engineering at Monash not long after Darvall returned to Australia. As soon as he saw the advertisement, he applied. 

Noel Murray, then head of the Department of Civil Engineering, and a structural engineer himself, supported Darvall’s application and strongly recommended his appointment. In February 1970 Peter Darvall was offered a lectureship in the Department of Civil Engineering. Looking back, Darvall recalls that at the time he did not know very much about this relatively new Faculty of Engineering. However, he commented that when he went to Monash to meet Noel Murray and some others in the Faculty, he was taken by their enthusiasm, dedication and ‘gung-ho’ approach to teaching and research in engineering.

Darvall thrived in the Department of Civil Engineering. He was dedicated to teaching, to his students and to research. Within four years he had been promoted to Senior Lecturer. During his time at Monash, Darvall had also become interested in the operations of the University as well as union activities. He became involved in various university and staff committees before being elected President of the Federation of Australian University Staff Associations (FAUSA) in 1979. During his presidency Darvall worked part-time for FAUSA and part-time in the Faculty of Engineering – FAUSA contributed to his salary to provide him and the Faculty with teaching relief.

darvall application letter
An extract of the letter that Darvall write to accompany his application for the Deanship. In it, he argued strongly that he was the ideal person to be appointed the next Dean of the Faculty of Engineering.

In January 1985 Darvall was promoted from Senior Lecturer to Reader in Civil Engineering – a testimony to both his teaching and research. Then, two years later when the deanship became vacant, Darvall applied. In a letter that accompanied his application Darvall eloquently stated his case:

It has been my own great privilege to be associated with the development of the Faculty for seventeen years.

I have developed strong links with the profession, with other faculties and the administration of the University.

I believe my abilities and experiences across a range of areas would enable me to provide leadership for the Faculty within the university, and represent it vigorously, but diplomatically, to the profession, to the tertiary education sector, and to governments. 

Darvall was the strongest candidate for the role of Dean and his ideas and views about the future of the Faculty and the outlook for engineering education clearly struck a chord with the Selection Committee. With Darvall’s appointment the Faculty moved into its next phase.

(Updated Jun 8, 2011) Printed on: