Shirley Grundy, 1947-2010

July 22, 2010

An Australian educationalist who took on a leadership role in Hong Kong has died.

Shirley Grundy was born in Perth, Australia on 25 June 1947. She started her career as a teacher in rural primary schools before entering university as a mature student. A BA from the University of Queensland in 1976 was followed by an MA in Classics from the University of Western Australia in 1981 and a PhD in education from Murdoch University in Perth in 1984. Her thesis was entitled Beyond Professionalism: Action Research as Critical Pedagogy.

It was also at Murdoch that Professor Grundy became involved in the development of an innovative school experience programme and briefly served as a lecturer in education.

In 1985, she moved to the department of social, cultural and curriculum studies at the University of New England in New South Wales, where she rose through the ranks from lecturer to senior lecturer, associate professor and eventually to head of department.

In 1993, Professor Grundy returned to Murdoch University as an associate professor of education and soon became a joint national coordinator of a project called Innovative Links between Universities and Schools for Teacher Professional Development. She remained at Murdoch until 2000, although for latter part of this period she was seconded to the Warren Blackwood Education District of Western Australia as district director. Her deep understanding of both the theory and the practice of education was reflected in her two books, Curriculum: Product or Praxis? (1987), translated into Spanish and Greek, and Action Research as Professional Development (1995).

In 2001, Professor Grundy shifted into a managerial role and became dean of education at Deakin University in Australia. She was awarded a diploma by the Australian Institute of Company Directors in 2006. The following year, at the age of 60, she took her first job outside her home country and became the first female - and the first externally appointed - dean of education at the University of Hong Kong.

She was widely admired for her good humour, her commitment to teaching and her leadership skills, but also, said faculty secretary Aster Ho, for the way "she really tried to integrate into Chinese society and immerse herself in local life. She learned Cantonese and was very sensitive to cultural differences. She also had a compassion for underprivileged students in developing countries and a deep understanding of how education could help them."

Professor Grundy died after a stroke on 3 July 2010 and is survived by her partner Stewart Bonser.

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