HENRY Nowik was described yesterday as “a champion of regional development” and a key figure in the modern development of Albury-Wodonga.
Charles Sturt University vice-chancellor Professor Andrew Vann said the naming of the Nowik Learning Commons honoured his life’s work, including his establishment of Mars Petcare, formerly Uncle Ben’s, in Wodonga in 1967.
The Nowik Theatres, which were named in 1993, closed recently during the transfer of the campus to Thurgoona and the new building is a much more imposing structure that cost $7 million.
Professor Vann said Dr Nowik’s experience in Poland, Britain, Australia and the US added up to a rich and full life.
His work in starting Mars factories in Wodonga, Ballarat and Bathurst had brought big benefits to those centres, while his influence had spread to Japan, Malaysia and Thailand.
In the 1970s he had served on the governing council of CSU’s predecessor, the Riverina Institute, and later he had been a benefactor of CSU, who honoured him with a doctorate of letters in 1994.
Dr Nowik, who now lives in Queensland, broke his leg during the war and now has trouble walking but keeps fit by using a static cycle.
Asked if he was visiting the Mars factory in Wodonga, he laughed and said, “No, the receptionist would probably say ‘Who the hell are you?’.”
CSU chancellor Lawrie Willett also attended yesterday’s ceremony hosted by campus head Associate Professor Julia Coyle.