UNSW at Penn Club. SJ Dodgson. MJoTA 2014 v8n1 p0515
The 2 academic institutions that trained me, nurtured me, collided in Dec 2013 in Manhattan. The first time I have ever been invited to UNSW alumni event. Ever. And it was a cocktail reception in the Penn Club in Manhattan, close to Grand Central Station.
The first time I had anything to do with UNSW was in 1960. I was visiting the doctors' quarters at the UNSW teaching hospital, the Prince of Wales. I remember being amazed at a young man wrapped only in a towel happily chatting with my father.
I was 9, Dr MCH Dodgson had been recruited to help start the new medical school, which opened for students in 1963. His medical school training at the the University of London paralleled the second world war, and included the bombing of his medical school, which was across the river from the Houses of Parliament. During the last year of the war in Europe, an Irish medical graduate moved to London in time for the unmanned bombs. They married a week before my father was shipped to South East Asia. Letters from my father showed that he adapted well to his duties in the jungle: he became interested in the circulation of a snake, which results became his first published paper. My father wrote to my mother that when an unfortunate man died, he removed the brain and brought it back to his hut for pathological investigation.
My father's interest in dead brains brought him to UNSW; he had a faculty appointment in pathology while his day job was pathologist at the Prince of Wales Hospital. And a constant threat in my parents house on Doncaster Avenue was opening the fridge and seeing a bottle with brains floating in some fluid.
So my entire reason for being in Australia was UNSW, and my reason for leaving in 1978 was that the Faculty of Medicine awarded me a doctorate of philosophy from the School of Physiology and Pharmacology and the University of Pennsylvania offered me a position as post-doctoral fellow.
I stayed at Penn for 18 years; my 4 children were born when I was there, the 3 boys at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. This Monday, my boss all those 18 years invited my eldest son and I to dinner. Dr Forster is 94, born the same year as my father, but has outlived him by nearly 30 years. My father died in the Prince of Wales Hospital.
Was my UNSW education worth it? Oh yes. My first degree was in science, which stretched into honours biochemistry and won me an Australian Government postgraduate scholarship for my PhD. My stay at an Ivy League
university lasted 18 years. I left as an Associate Professor,
and started a new career in the US pharmaceutical industry. The opportunities that came from my education eased me into a comfortable life in my 7th decade. Thank you UNSW!.