Robert Black bids farewell to RMIT

“There’s one thing I’ll miss, and that’s the people.”

With those words, training and education veteran Robert Black signed off from his role as director of the International Centre for Graphic Arts (ICGT), which he has occupied since 2004, and from a career of many years as an industry educator.

Speaking at an October 28 farewell function at Melbourne’s Jasper Hotel organised for him by RMIT University, of which the ICGT is a part, Black paid tribute to the support he has received over the years from his wife Gillian and from staff at the ICGT and RMIT.

The event was attended by representatives of  major vendors that supported the ICGT, including Alastair Hadley of Heidelberg ANZ and Bernie Robinson of the Currie Group.

Black said his decision many years ago to move from the industry’s coalface into vocational education had been one of the most transforming of his life.

“Anyone who comes out to RMIT at Brunswick [the ICGT facility] says ‘this is a nice little campus’, and it is, and I know I contributed to it.

“I have been enthused, I have loved it … there have been a number of changes over the years … change has been a constant, there have been some ups and downs, but it has been a pleasure and I’ve enjoyed every moment.

“I was very excited when the State Government acknowledged us as a ‘Specialist Centre’ in 2002. That recognised about six years of hard work by myself and others.”

More recently, Black received an international award from the Electronic Document Systems Foundation for Innovation in Education.

Black spoke about his close ties to the printing industry and how he tried to bridge the industry, and its support for the facility with capital equipment, and the RMIT infrastructure.

“One foot in both camps isn’t easy. I can tell you in all honesty my hardest battles have been internal. External [relations] to people, external to the industry has always been on the up, but internally, because of changing profiles, has been a battle and a struggle on occasions.”

Hendrikus Berkers, head of the School of Design TAFE, welcomed attendees and said the purpose of the evening was “to celebrate Robert’s career spanning over 28 years in TAFE. He started at the North Melbourne College of Printing and Graphic Arts and then came to RMIT. He has worked in education across Australia and internationally”.

In a personal invitation to the farewell event, sent primarily to printing industry vendors, Berkers had stated, “I look forward to continuing your relationship with the ICGT as we value the industry partnership that contributes to our success.

“With changes such as VET skills reform, changes in graphic technology and new centre leadership, we will be looking to increased input from our partners to guide us to meet your education, training and research needs.”

Black’s sudden departure last month shocked the industry.

He had taken a superannuation option in the belief a new contract would be issued but his association with RMIT ended suddenly when the offer a new contract from the college was refused.

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