30 November 2010
RMIT farewells a design leader
Hendrikus Berkers has retired after 33 years at RMIT.
Hendrikus Berkers, former Head of the School of Design TAFE at RMIT University, has retired after 33 years of passionate and innovative service.
Mr Berkers' relationship with RMIT first began in 1967 when he was a trade student in cabinet making. At that time the highest qualification at TAFE was a certificate.
After graduating and working in the furniture trade, Mr Berkers returned to RMIT as a trade teacher. His career progressed to coordinator for the furniture programs and to Head of Department. Mr Berkers then formed and directed the School of Built Environment.
This new school amalgamated with RMIT's design-related vocational programs from the School of Applied Communication, combining to form the School of Design TAFE. The School's most recent addition is the International Centre of Graphic Technology at RMIT's Brunswick campus.
Mr Berkers' teaching and management style was visionary and inclusive: he encouraged industry to work with students on special programs and projects, while building connections and collaborating with international industry experts and specialists.
Professor Colin Fudge, Pro Vice-Chancellor Design and Social Context and Vice-President, said Mr Berkers had made a "generous contribution to the RMIT community".
Asked if he'd do it all again, Mr Berkers said: "Yes I would. RMIT is an amazing place to work. The opportunities, the people and the students are connections that last for life."
Mr Berkers' advice to students and colleagues after more than three decades years of service?
"Reinvent yourself. Understand the strategic goals of your organisation and enjoy your work. Stay enthusiastic.
"I'm proud to say that I have contributed to shaping RMIT. I'm a great supporter of collaboration across both sectors. RMIT today has grown up, matured and has an amazing global reach."
Professor Leon van Schaik AO, Michael Goss, friends and colleagues spoke of their great friendship, working partnerships and achievements with Mr Berkers at a function in his honour.
Through all of his roles at RMIT, Mr Berkers has gained the trust and respect of staff and students. He has forged many friendships and built a legacy that will continue into the future.