Professor Charles Angas Hurst
Mathematical Physicist and Educator
Born: September 22, 1923, Adelaide
Died: October 19, 2011, Adelaide
Professor Angas Hurst was a distinguished Australian scientist who was an international leader in research and a major contributor to the scientific community. He was the second child of Walter William Hurst and Audrey Carrie Alexandra Morris, and was born in Unley Park, South Australia, but grew up in Hawthorn, Victoria, where he attended Scotch College, and was dux of both the Preparatory and Senior Schools. His studies at the University of Melbourne were interrupted by the war years. He saw active service as commander of a radar station on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea, with the rank of Flight Lieutenant, and in subsequent years rose to the rank of Wing Commander through the University of Adelaide Squadron of the RAAF. He completed his degrees at the University of Melbourne (BA 1947, BSc 1948), and subsequently postgraduate studies at Cambridge University (PhD 1952). In 1952-1956 he was appointed Senior Lecturer in the Mathematics Department at the University of Melbourne, and in 1957 accepted the position of Senior Lecturer, Department of Mathematical Physics at the University of Adelaide. He held the position of Professor (1964-1988) until his retirement in 1988. He was appointed as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Sciences in 1972, was awarded an honorary DSc by the University of Melbourne in 1991, and in the Australia Day Honours list 2003 was awarded Member (AM) in the General Division "for service to science, particularly in the field of mathematical physics as an educator, researcher and administrator."
Angas Hurst played an extensive and distinguished part in the management of the University of Adelaide and contributed actively to his local community. With his co-Professor in Adelaide (Prof H.S. Green) he was responsible for the establishment of mathematical physics within Australia as a research field of international distinction. His research contributions have been recognised by the international community through many visiting positions at leading institutions. He was a fine ambassador for his country and for Australian science.
Angas Hurst's commitment extended beyond the disciplines of Physics and Mathematical Physics. He served the Australian scientific community generally as a Member of the Council of the Academy of Science from 1983-1986 and as Vice-President in 1984-1985. He was always interested in fostering links across disciplines and did so particularly with mathematics as a founding member (1956) of the Australian Mathematical Society. In addition to his role as a Professor and Head of Department within the University, he provided leadership in ways that went well beyond the demands of his position. He chaired the senior Committee of the University, Education Committee, from 1973-1976 and served as a member of the Council of the University from 1975-1978. The Council of the University appointed him acting Vice Chancellor in 1985, an indication of the high esteem in which he was held within the University. He was then appointed Pro-Vice Chancellor (Research) from 1986-1988 and was responsible for a number of influential reports. He was a member of the University of Adelaide (student) Union House Committee from 1964-1967, a member of the Union Council from 1964-1973 and chaired the Union Planning Committee from 1965-1973. He was concerned with the welfare of postgraduate students and was one of the prime movers for establishing the first Graduate College of the University of Adelaide (Kathleen Lumley College); he served on the Council from its inception in 1971 until 1974.
Angas Hurst was also involved in community service in both church and political life. He was treasurer of the Clayton-Wesley Uniting Church, and was greatly admired for his compassion and wisdom in the service of the church. He also served as treasurer of the Norwood Branch of the Australian Labour Party, and was active in campaigning for the ALP at election times.
A memorial ceremony to reflect on the exceptional career of Angas Hurst as an internationally known mathematical physicist and a great servant of the University will be held on Tuesday 7 February, 2012 at 2.00pm in Elder Hall, the University of Adelaide. He is survived by his wife, three children, and four grandchildren.
By Max Lohe