Borders were no barrier to Professor Tim McCormack becoming one of the world’s foremost experts in international humanitarian law. But after decades spent working interstate and internationally, the University of Tasmania alumnus and its new Dean of the Faculty of Law agrees that it’s good to be home.

“I’m really happy about the opportunity to come back to Tassie and try to contribute here,” Professor McCormack said. “I spent the first 18 years of my life in Burnie, looking north across the Bass Strait to Melbourne, and I’ve spent the last 34 years looking south across the Bass Strait to Tassie from Melbourne. I’d describe this opportunity for me as a chance to align my emotional being – having left my heart here – with my physical being. Finally, we’re reunited!”

Professor McCormack attended Burnie Primary School, Parklands High School and Hellyer College before starting a Bachelor of Laws at the University.

If I think back to growing up in Burnie, I could never have imagined working on a global stage, but I had a great foundation [in Tasmania] at all levels of my education.

Coming to the University of Tasmania was a big breakthrough for me. I broadened my horizons, and I found international law the subject which captured my imagination. That sovereign nation-states would agree on constraints on the way they interact with each other really fascinated me.” 

Professor McCormack graduated from the University with Honours in 1982, before going on to specialise in international law, first by completing his PhD at Monash University and then as the inaugural Australian recipient of the Golda Meir Postdoctoral Fellowship to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.  

“I never thought about being limited by geography,” he said.

The subject matter is global; the discipline is very mobile, and why not? The fact that I am Tasmanian for the overwhelming majority of people that I interact with is something very exciting.

He adds: “I’m excited about returning home and coming to a law school that has always had a very strong commitment to excellence in teaching.

“Being the only law school in Tasmania brings with it privileges and obligations. We have an obligation to train our graduates, not just to tick boxes for qualification to admission to practice, but to understand the role of law in our society, to understand that law is not an end in itself, it’s a means to achieve a just [and] fairer society.”

Photo: Professor Tim McCormack is the new dean of the Faculty of Law.

Authored by Gilda Sorella.