Woman Pesman, Roslyn (Ros) Louise (1938 - )


24 June 1938
Leeton, New South Wales, Australia
Alternative Names
  • Cooper, Roslyn Louise

Written by Sharon M. Harrison, The University of Melbourne

Ros Pesman is a leader in the history profession and in tertiary education, who has contributed to the history of the Florentine Renaissance politics, Italian-Australian connections, Italian migration to Australia and women's travel and travel writing, and to academic leadership, particularly at the University of Sydney.

Roslyn Louise Pesman (née Cooper) was born on 24 June 1938 in Leeton NSW. Her parents were Robert Hewitson Cooper and Dulcie May Butler. Pesman's childhood was peripatetic and she attended seven schools in rural New South Wales before completing her education as a boarder at Methodist Ladies' College, Burwood, NSW. She graduated from the University of Sydney in 1959 with a BA (Honours) degree. Pesman worked as a Teaching Fellow in the History Department at the University of Sydney from 1959 to 1960, before commencing her doctoral studies on a scholarship at London University where she was appointed as Junior Fellow at the Warburg Institute (1963-1965). In 1965 she received her PhD from the University of London for her thesis 'Piero Soderini, Gonfaloniere a Vita of Florence 1502-1512', and returned to Australia to take up a lectureship at the University of Sydney (1966-1972). She was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 1972, Associate Professor in 1984 and to a personal chair in history in 1996.

Pesman has held many key administration roles at the University of Sydney, including Head of the Department of History, Acting Principal of the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and Director of the Frederick May Foundation for Italian Studies. Pesman served as Deputy Chair, Academic Board (1995-1997) and as Chair of the Academic Board (1997-1999). She was the first female Chair of the Academic Board. During her term of office as Chair, the Academic Board commenced development of the Summer School, approved the Code of Conduct for Responsible Research Practice and developed new Principles of Assessment and new policies and procedures for academic promotion. From 1997 to 1999 Pesman served as a Fellow of the University of Sydney Senate. In March 1999 she was appointed Pro Vice-Chancellor, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, responsible to the Vice-Chancellor for the academic, administrative and financial management of the faculties of Arts, Economics and Business, Education and Law, the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and the Sydney College of Arts. After five years in this position, Pesman was appointed to the Challis Chair in History. She retired from the University in mid-2005 and was appointed Professor Emerita.

Her many publications include: Duty free: Australian women abroad (1996); Pier Soderini and the Ruling Class in Renaissance Florence (2002) and From Paesani to global Italians: Veneto migrants in Australia, with Loretta Baldasar (2005); Australians in Italy: contemporary lives and impressions, edited with Bill Kent and Cynthia Troup (2008); The Oxford book of Australian travel writing, edited with David Walker and Richard White (1996), and over fifty essays and articles.

Pesman was appointed a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Humanities in 2002, serving as Vice-President of the Academy from 2005 to 2006. She is a former President of the Australian Historical Association (2004-2006). In recognition of her contribution to the history discipline as a whole, as well as her many years service to the University of Sydney, the History Council of New South Wales awarded Pesman the 2012 Annual History Citation. In 2012 she was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for services to tertiary education through academic and administrative roles, particularly the study of the history of Italian migrants in Australia, and to the community.

On 8 December 1964 she married Albert Pesman (1932- ) in London; they have two daughters and one son.

Published Resources

Book Sections

  • 'Roslyn Louise Pesman', in Who’s Who in Australia, Crown Content, Melbourne, Victoria, 1927-. Details
  • 'Roslyn Louise Pesman', in Andrea Lofthouse (ed.), Who’s Who of Australian Women, Methuen Australia, Sydney, New South Wales, 1982. Details
  • Masselos, Jim and Pesman, Roslyn Cooper, 'Marjorie Jacobs', in Caine Barbara; Fletcher, Brian; Miller, Meg; Pesman, Ros; and Schreuder, Deryck (eds), History at Sydney, 1891 - 1991: Centenary Reflections, Highland Press, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, 1992, pp. 63 - 68. Details

Online Resources

See also