Buck and Joan out socialising …
Don’t call Underwood man Buck Emberg elderly and expect a polite reply.
But address him by his new title of Dr Emberg and you might get a better response from the 80-year-old, whose most public guise has been as an anti-pulp mill protester but who has quietly just completed his fifth university degree.
“I started my first degree 61 years ago at the North Western University in Chicago, in the US,” Dr Emberg said last week.
He was looking back over a remarkable life as he prepared for his latest graduation yesterday – from the University of Tasmania with a literature PhD.
It was awarded for a six-year study of the infamous Tasmanian bushranger Martin Cash.
In gown and distinctive PhD-style hat, Dr Emberg was one of more than 1000 students to officially graduate at the University of Tasmania’s annual Northern ceremony at Launceston’s Albert Hall.
Dr Emberg is particularly proud of this university qualification.
“It has been the hardest, the worst and the best,” he said.
“After doing two masters degrees, I thought that I would just waltz in and that would be it,” he said.
“But look at this,” he said, holding up the thick, red doorstep of a manuscript that is his PhD.
“There has to be no errors in that.
“And basically I’m a satirist, it’s hard for me to be serious – I rewrote it twice.
“And I hate computers – I ended up having to get my carpel tunnel (wrist operation) done half-way through this with all the computer work.”
After Dr Emberg’s first degree in the US when he qualified as a physical education teacher, he thought that he might become a minister of religion.
He graduated first with a bachelor degree and then a master of divinity.
But life interrupted, as it often has in Dr Emberg’s 80 years.
He instead went back to university and graduated this time with a master of arts in journalism from the University of Washington in Seattle.
Despite his advancing years – “sorry Buck,” – Dr Emberg wanted to complete this PhD for his family, which is dominated by university graduates.