Richard Roderick (Rod) Andrew was born in Perth Western Australia, son of Frank Carl Frederic Andrew, an otolaryngologoist, and Jemima Andrew nee Urquhart. He was educated at Geelong Grammar School and graduated in medicine from the University of Melbourne in 1935. During the following three years he held appointments at the Royal Melbourne Hospital and the Royal Children’ Hospital. He then moved to Western Australia and at the outbreak of the Second World War was Acting Superintendent at the Princess Margaret Hospital.
He served with the AIF from September 1939 until April 1946, first in the Middle East and then in Australia where with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel he commanded the Malaria Research Unit in Cairns under the direction of Brigadier Sir Neil Hamilton Fairley. Later, he saw service in the New Guinea theatre. He was mentioned in dispatches and his contributions to clinical problems in a war setting are well documented by Walker (qv 1) in his Australian War Memorial volumes dealing with that field.
After what Rod described as six and a half years of 'long service and (moderately) good conduct' he was discharged from the AIF in 1946. Awarded a Nuffield Travelling Scholarship, his delayed post-graduate study included terms with Avery Jones at Central Middlesex Hospital in London and with Bockus in Philadelphia and Chapman at Massachusetts General Hospital. In 1948 he married Joan Sidney Watt. Their only child Rosalind died in 1976.
Appointed Physician to Outpatients at The Alfred Hospital he returned after 15 months abroad - 'itching to have a go myself' – an embryo gastroenterologist with a special interest in the physiology and pharmacology of motility of the gut.
Like a number of other returning physicians at The Alfred Hospital Melbourne, he first worked part-time at The Baker Institute while establishing his consulting practice. After seven years at The Baker, Rod was overtaken by the new wave of technology (in medical research) as well as a growing private practice. 'At the ripe age of 44 I became a drop out from laboratory research aware by then that my role was as a clinician.'
Rod retained his interest in the Baker Institute and was a member of its Board (1960-87) and Vice President. He was the Baker’s honorary archivist, founder and foundation chairman of The Baker Alumni Association and the founder and a major contributor for many years to the Baker Institute News. In this publication his articles, which ranged from biographical notes to book reviews, were literary gems and testament to his wit and erudition.
No brief account can describe adequately the range and depth of Professor Andrew’s involvement in the establishment of a new university and medical school, or the extent of his influence in the development of teaching hospitals and research institutes affiliated with the university. In structural terms his monument is there for all to see.
Monash University was established by an Act of the Victorian Parliament on 15 April 1958. Sir Keith Murray, Chairman of the University Grants Committee in the United Kingdom had previously visited Australia at the invitation of Sir Robert Menzies to report on a perceived need to expand opportunities for tertiary education in Australia. His report (19 September 1957) included a postscript on the Victorian situation, which referred to the need for additional facilities for medical education.
The six members appointed as interim council for the new university first met on 19 June 1958 and included two medical representatives: Dr RR Andrew, a consultant physician and Dean of the Alfred Hospital Clinical School affiliated with Melbourne University, and Professor M.R. Ewing, Professor of Surgery at Melbourne University.
Five professorial appointments to Monash University were made during 1960, including the appointment of Professor Andrew as Dean of Medicine with continuing tenure in that post until his retirement in 1976. In referring to his early years within the Faculty of Medicine at Monash University he was given to self-disparaging and outrageously inaccurate comments along the following lines – 'Having been a gastroenterologist in private practice but with no previous academic connections, I became a professor overnight – one of the Clayton types both geographically and in the modern vernacular. Among my fair dinkum academic colleagues I felt like Auden who once said that "in the company of scientists I feel like a shabby curate who strayed by mischance into a drawing room full of dukes."'
A more accurate perception of the vigour he engendered in those around him was apparent when a visiting colleague from interstate asked 'Why is it that, whenever I visit you people, I feel that I have entered a commando training camp?'
In the early 1960’s there was a little place, either at Monash University or in Rod Andrew’s mind, for the scriptural injunction 'whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant.' Certainly there was no place for colleagues who would sit on the fence or exhibit crusading inertia or fiery caution, iridescent without illumination. Strategies for both short term and long term goals had to be hammered out, at whatever emotional cost, and then implemented. The setting appealed to us all.
His influence extended beyond state boundaries. He was a director of the Australian-American Educational Foundation from 1964 to 1976 and its Chairman from 1970 to 1976 and followed the careers of Fulbright scholars irrespective of their disciplines. His long standing friendship with Senator Fulbright stemmed from their shared distaste for American or Australian involvement in Vietnam.
In the year of his retirement in 1976, Professor Andrew received an Honorary MD from Monash University and was admitted to the Order of Australia. He continued his administrative and educational interests by accepting an appointment as Director of Medical Education at the St Frances Xavier Cabrini Hospital over the following seven years. He also retained his link with Monash through the development of the University Art Gallery; he was Chairman of the Friends of the Gallery from 1987.
There were many facets to the personality of Rod Andrew. He belonged to a generation that agonized over the issues of the Spanish Civil War. His background was that of privilege but he was a man of powerful and preserving social instincts whose interest was with reform and whose concern was with the future and with the welfare of those who would occupy it. There was, indeed, in his make up something of a Menzies at his patrician best and something of a Whitlam at his most challenging. It was not always possible to predict which set of qualities was likely to emerge in response to a given situation. He agonized over the Victorian Government's decision to proceed with a judicial hanging in October 1962 and, along with three colleagues, was a signatory to a letter to the Age challenging that decision. He was also, along with 16 other Australians, a signatory to a letter to the Age in December 1972 calling, in effect, for an end to the Government of the day. Not long after, along with biomedical scientists of the day, he entered the lists again and at a public meeting challenged the new Labor Government over its funding procedures for biomedical research in Australia. His mind was sharp and active and his immediate responses often instinctive; sometimes it required a long haul to bring him back to the middle ground for debate.
His list of publications, lectures, and contributions to books numbers almost 150 items, including a report of the first case of tick-borne typhus found in Australia. His knowledge of English literature was compendious. He had an abiding and discriminating interest in contemporary Australian Art; his friendship with Russell Drysdale extended back to schooling they shared at Geelong Grammar. 'He couldn't draw then' (said Andrew, the precocious art critic) 'and I had to teach him how to do it!' Their long association enabled the former precocious art critic to hone his discriminatory skills further and derive great pleasure from the work of both his contemporaries and succeeding generations of Australian artists.
A short time before his death we drove to Monash University to see his portrait, commissioned by the Association of Monash Medical Graduates some years ago, displayed in a new setting in the Medical School. Not long after that visit it was necessary for him to receive care at Cabrini Hospital. Early on the morning of 12 February, after having spoken with his wife and other members of his family the previous afternoon and evening, he died in his sleep.
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