Senior Common Room
The Senior Common Room membership is made up of leading academics, postgraduates, theologians and professionals within the College community.
Their combined expertise and experience assists students with their studies and also supports the operation of the College.
Senior Common Room Members
- Master Prof David T. Runia BA (Hons), MA, DipEd, Litt D (Melb), DLitt (VU Amsterdam), FAHA
- Dean of Studies, Dr Brenda Holt BA, MA, PhD
- Dean of Wellbeing, Prof. Dr Tim Corney BA, MA, PhD
- College Chaplain, Rev. Sally Apokis BMin, DipTeach
- Senior Tutor and Arch Wyvern, Mr. Jacob Workman BSB (Hons), GCertUM, MCom
- Senior Tutor, Mrs Annabelle Workman BA(Hons), GDipEnv(PH)
- Senior Tutor, Mrs Helen Corney BAppSci, DipTraining, MSci, PhD(Cand RMIT)
- Mentor Coordinator & Residential Tutor, Dr Sarah-Jane Dempsey DipPWE, BA(Hons), PhD
- Prof Sean Winter BA(Hons), DPhil
- Choir Director, Mr John Weretka BA (Hons), GradCertArts (Art History), PostGradDipArts (Art History), GradDipTheol, GradDipHumanities (Latin), AMusA
- Rev. Dr Con Apokis BA, BTh, DipMin, MTh, PhD
- Mrs Gonni Runia BArts, DipSocStudies (Melb), DipEd (La Trobe)
- Rev. Dr Geoff Thompson BAgrSc (Hons, Melbourne), BD (Hons, MCD), PhD (Cambridge)
Senior Common Room Members
Master, Prof. David T. Runia
BA (Hons), MA DipEd Litt D (Melb), DLitt (VU Amsterdam), FAHA
Born in the Netherlands and descended from solid Frisian stock, David has spent his life moving backwards and forwards between the Netherlands and Australia. He first came out to this country with his parents at the age of four and grew up in Geelong, where he attended The Geelong College and was dux of the school in 1968. His youth in Geelong has resulted in an indelible Australian accent and inevitable support for a particular football team (though he also greatly enjoys cricket).
In 1969 he went up to Queen’s on a Hitchcock scholarship and resided here for three formative years while he studying Classics, History and Philosophy at the University of Melbourne. On completing his BA (Hons) in 1972 he continued to study at the University and obtained a MA (thesis subject: The letters of Synesius of Cyrene) and a DipEd. In 1977, having won the University of Melbourne Travelling Scholarship, he returned to The Netherlands and pursued a doctorate in Ancient Philosophy at the Free University, Amsterdam. It was completed in 1983 and obtained the highest grade of cum laude. Its subject focused on the Greek-speaking Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria and the use he made of Plato’s dialogue the Timaeus in interpreting the creation account in Genesis, the first book of the Bible.
On completing his doctorate David obtained the prestigious C & C Huygens Post-doctoral award in the Netherlands, which allowed him to continue his research and become a visiting fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, U.S.A., and the Humanities Research Centre, ANU, Canberra. In 1989 he spent a year in Münster, Germany, as an Alexander von Humboldt fellow. In 1990 he was appointed lecturer in ancient philosophy at the Free University, Amsterdam. The next year he became Professor Extraordinarius at the University of Utrecht, and in 1992 he was appointed to the chair of Ancient and Medieval Philosophy at the University of Leiden, the Netherlands’ oldest and most famous university. From 1995 to 1999 he was Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy.
In 2002 David returned to Melbourne to take up the position of Master of his old College. At present, in addition to being Master, he is also Professorial Fellow of the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies in the Faculty of Arts at the University, as well as being Professor Extraordinarius in the Department of Ancient Studies at the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa.
David’s chief research interests have been in the history of ideas and particularly the relation between Greek philosophy and the Judaeo-Christian tradition. He is a world authority on the figure of Philo of Alexandria, the learned Greek-speaking Jew who lived at the same time as Jesus Christ. He is also currently doing research on the sources for the history of early Greek philosophy. This research has been supported by two Australian Research Council grants which enable him to work together with colleagues from overseas.
David is married to Gonni, who also has a Dutch background. They have three children. Their daughter Emma lives in Amsterdam She is married to Daniel and they have a son Oliver. Their two sons moved with them to Australia and now live in Melbourne.
As a result of many years of research and teaching experience David is convinced that ancient ideas, especially in the areas of ethics and spirituality, are highly relevant to our lives and culture as we experience them in the 21st century. He also believes that the College, as a residential academic community where senior, middle and junior members mix together, is an excellent place for such ideas to be presented and discussed.
Dean of Studies, Dr Brenda Holt
BA, DipEd, MA, PhD
Brenda joined Queen’s College in late October 2014 as the inaugural Dean of Studies.
Brenda’s work as an educator over the last 25 years has spanned from secondary to tertiary institutions. Starting her career at an outer suburban high school in Melbourne as an English teacher, Brenda moved to the higher education sector in 1993. She has worked as an academic advisor, counsellor, teacher, head of a residential college, researcher and administrator during this time. Although she grew up in rural Texas in the USA, she has been a happy migrant in Australia, mainly Melbourne, since 1989.
For the last decade, Brenda’s academic work has been focused around equity and access for underrepresented young people. Frustrated with seeing young rural Australians represented mainly in educational statistical data, Brenda decided to undertake a PhD in order to demonstrate some of the complexities of inequality in education that are hard to measure. Her thesis, Global Routes/Rural Roots: Identity, Rural Women and Higher Education, was completed at the end of 2007 and won the 2009 Chancellor’s Prize (Social Sciences). An Honorary Fellow in the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, Brenda has written several published articles and is a regular presenter at education conferences.
Outside of work, Brenda’s interests include reading (she’s in two book clubs), going to live theatre, eating out in Melbourne and spending time with her husband and teenage children.
Dean of Wellbeing, Prof. Dr Tim Corney
BA, MA, PhD
Tim was appointed in July 2014 as the inaugural Dean of Student Wellbeing and has worked with young people and students in academia, industry and the community sector for more than two decades. He has fulfilled roles as a youth worker, senior manager of youth services, researcher, academic, and as a consultant and adviser to community agencies, peak bodies and governments. Tim has published widely in the area of youth studies and is currently a Senior Fellow in the Graduate School of Education, the University of Melbourne and an adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Education at Victoria University. Among his research interests are the sociology of youth, school to work transitions, youth and community development, and programs for young people at risk.
College Chaplain, Rev. Sally Apokis
Sally has worked in educational chaplaincy in Australia and in the United Kingdom for twenty years, most recently as the Chaplain to the University of Kent, the University of Greenwich, and the University of Canterbury Christ Church—where she was also a Canon of Rochester Cathedral. Sally is an ordained Christian minister, holds both theological and educational qualifications and has taught in the private, Catholic and state sectors. She has worked in community development over many years working for peace, justice and reconciliation and as a part of the interfaith movement. She is passionate about affirming the goodness and spirituality of young people and their vocations. Offering hospitality and using the creative arts, Sally offers an inclusive and vibrant chaplaincy.
Senior Tutor and Arch Wyvern, Jacob Workman
BSB (Hons), GCertUM, MCom
Jacob Workman, BSB (Hons), MCOMM is a professional manager and facilitator, having held senior roles in both industry and academia. He completed undergraduate studies in entrepreneurship and economics at the University of Minnesota Carlson School, and his masters of commerce was undertaken at the University of Melbourne. Jake currently heads the Education and Programs portfolio at the Centre for Workplace Leadership within the Melbourne Business School, where he specialises in leadership capability and professional skills development.
Jake has a long and vibrant relationship with Queen’s College. He met his wife Annabelle at Queen’s whilst completing a semester abroad at the University of Melbourne, where they were in the Queen’s Production of Singing in the Rain together. Belle and Jake then lived in Queen’s from 2008-2011 as resident tutors and members of the Senior Common Room. They returned as Senior Tutors in 2016 with their three-year old daughter. Jake has served as the Arch-wyvern since 2014 and sits on Council, Finance Committee and the Philanthropy Committee.
Senior Tutor, Mrs Annabelle Workman
Annabelle is a doctoral candidate with the European Union Centre on Shared Complex Challenges and the Australian-German Climate and Energy College. She holds an Honours degree in Arts (Politics and Chinese) and a Graduate Diploma in Environments (Public Health), both from the University of Melbourne.
Belle investigated environmental policy in the lead-up to the Beijing Olympics in her Honours thesis in 2008. Afterwards, she spent five years working for the Australian federal government in public health while completing a graduate diploma in Environments part-time. She commenced her PhD in 2015 and is exploring the role of health co-benefits in the development of national climate change mitigation policies in Australia, China and the EU.
Outside of research, Belle loves running, reading, camping and socialising. At Queen’s, she lives with her husband Jake, and their three year-old daughter Evie, and is responsible for postgraduate coordination and support.
Senior Tutor, Mrs Helen Corney
BAppSci, DipTraining, MSci, PhD(Cand RMIT)
Helen Corney is an environmental scientist at RMIT University and a Senior Tutor at Queen’s College. Helen has worked in government, academia and the not-for-profit sector in environmental management for 30 years.
Mentor Coordinator and Residential Tutor, Dr Sarah-Jane Dempsey
DipPWE, BA(Hons), PhD
Sarah-Jane is a Melbourne girl at heart, born and raised on the outer fringe of the suburbs, where trees still out number houses. She has always had a desire for knowledge and learning, and embarked on her first major academic undertaking when she started VCE at 13 years of age, which resulted in her being dux of her small country school. She commenced her first degree at 16 years old at Monash University, studying communications, but quickly fell in love with an elective – philosophy.
Sarah-Jane obtained her PhD in Philosophy from Monash University in 2014, for which she developed and defended an independent model of space-time, in the metaphysics area of philosophy. She researched and designed a logical and consistent model that allows for a real passing of time – something that is generally controversial and difficult to account for due to Einstien’s theory of relativity. Sarah-Jane has extensive experience in teaching at both secondary and tertiary levels. She has presented peer reviewed papers at national and international philosophy conferences, and has research interests in ethics, temporal metaphysics, philosophy for children, and mentor-mentee partnerships. She is currently undertaking further studies at The University of Melbourne in the Graduate Diploma of Psychology programme, and intends to combine the two disciplines in a new approach to mental health, utilising modern psychological science and ancient but common philosophical methods of thought. She is also concurrently completing a Diploma of Counselling at the AIPC. Sarah-Jane has worked locally, nationally, and internationally for the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, in both organisational and mentorship roles, and was chosen to be the Australian delegate to the World Centre in London during 2008, where she worked on the UN’s Millennium Development Goals, particularly concerning the rights of women and girls. She has a great passion for education, especially surrounding issues of access for girls and underprivileged children.
Her role at Queen’s College is twofold. She serves as Mentor Coordinator, organising and overseeing the College’s mentorship program designed to help first year students successfully settle in to university and College life. Sarah-Jane also holds a Resident Tutor role at Queen’s College, where she teaches various subjects related to philosophy, linguistics, politics, sociology, and psychology.
When she isn’t busy studying or teaching, she enjoys Melbourne’s amazing restaurants, cafes and nightlife; Netflix and Knit; jogging; ultralight overnight hiking; reading epic fantasy novels; and watching the AFL with her family.
Rev. Dr Sean Winter
Rev Sean Winter is Queen’s Dean of Chapel and is Head of Department for Biblical Studies at the United Faculty of Theology
Choir Director, Mr John Weretka
BA (Hons), GradCertArts (Art History), PostGradDipArts (Art History), GradDipTheol, GradDipHumanities (Latin), AMusA
John Weretka holds qualifications in mediaeval history, musicology, art history, theology and Latin language and literature and is currently a masters student at the University of Divinity. His masters thesis is a translation of and commentary on the Liber Primus of the twelfth-century bishop and theologian Sicard of Cremona’s liturgical commentary De mitrale, with an examination of its position within the tradition of the liturgical commentary in the Middle Ages and its links to works such as Jean Beleth’s Rationale Divinorum Officiorum, Honorius of Autun’s Gemma animae and Hugh of St Victor’s Speculum de mysteriis ecclesiae. John has taught subjects on the history of music in the Renaissance and Baroque period and harmony and counterpoint for the Faculty of Music at the University of Melbourne.
He has given public lectures and talks for bodies including the Johnston Collection, and the National Gallery of Victoria, and is a frequent preconcert speaker for the Australian Chamber Orchestra. He is a cultural tour leader for Australians Studying Abroad, for whom he has led tours in Rome, Sicily and the Low Countries. Active as a performing musician, John has appeared as a singer or viola da gambist in festivals including the Melbourne International Festival of the Arts, the Castlemaine State Festival, the Organs of the Ballarat Goldfields Festival, the Four Winds Festival at Bermagui, and the Melbourne International Festival of Organ and Harpsichord/Melbourne Autumn Music Festival and with groups including e21 and Ensemble Gombert. John was Director of Music at St Peter’s Anglican Church (Eastern Hill) from 2003 to 2008. Visit the College choir page for more information.
Rev. Dr Con Apokis
BA, BTh, DipMin, MTh, PhD
Con has held a number of higher education roles including Head of Faculty of Education & Youth Studies, Tabor Victoria; Director of Education & Training, Church Army (UK & Ireland); and he has presented at a number conferences. Con’s PhD research presented findings on how fathers with faith, other faiths and no faith in Western society experience significant liminal experiences and make sense of them. It sought to examine the role of religion, spirituality and religious practitioners through a focus on the experiences of fathers at the birth of their children. His current research interests include: contemporary modes of community life, the pervasive role of consumer mindsets, the role of story as a carrier of meaning and transformation, rituals as a catalyst for new modes of practice and meaning-making, and social transformation and social entrepreneurship. Con’s background is Greek Orthodox, his parents having migrated here from Greece in the 1950s. He is married to Sally (College Chaplain) with whom they have three children (Fotios Jude, Politimos Zakkai and Evthoxia Annabelle).
Mrs Gonni Runia
BAppSci, DipTraining, MSci, PhD(Cand RMIT)
Gonni combined her education and social work interests by working with migrant children and their families in inner city schools in the 1970’s. From 1977 until 2001 Gonni lived in The Netherlands where she set up an academic desk-top publishing business with expertise in ancient languages working in English, Middle Eastern and Islamic studies, history, philosophy and classics working mainly for Brill Academic Publishers. From 2002 until the present she has worked at Carlton Primary School in literacy intervention and ESL with refugee children from Somalia and Eritrea.
Rev. Dr Geoff Thompson
BAgrSc (Hons, Melbourne), BD (Hons, MCD), PhD (Cambridge)
Geoff Thompson is Co-ordinator of Studies in Systematic Theology at the Uniting Church’s Pilgrim Theological College (between St. Hilda’s and Ormond). Pilgrim is the institutional successor to the Methodist Theological College which was based at Queen’s up until the 1970s. After a brief career as an Agronomist, Geoff studied theology in Melbourne and Cambridge as part of his training as a minister in the Uniting Church. He served as a local pastor in Fairfield, before moving to Brisbane to teach at Trinity College Queensland for 12 years. He returned to Melbourne to take up his present position in 2013. Geoff’s research interests are in mainstream Christian theology with a particular focus on the public and ecclesial roles of Christian beliefs. He has published in the International Journal of Systematic Theology, Pacifica, Colloquium, and Uniting Church Studies as well as being an occasional contributor to the ABC’s Religion and Ethics website and On Line Opinion. In recent years Geoff has contributed chapters to Ecological Hermeneutics (2010), God of Salvation (2011), The Cambridge Companion to Reformed Theology (2016) as well as several entries in the New Dictionary of Theology: Historical and Systematic (2016). A collection of his essays on the theology of the Uniting Church has been published as Disturbing Much, Disturbing Many (2016). Geoff is married to Linda, and, with their adult son, Jamie, they live in The Close from where they greatly enjoy being part of the Queen’s community. The Close also provides relative proximity to Etihad Stadium where Geoff and Linda enjoy supporting the Western Bulldogs.
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